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Violence erupts in DR Congo as protesters attack Ebola centres

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Violence erupted on Thursday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after protesters thronged the streets demonstrating over this weekend’s crucial elections.

Protesters from the opposition reportedly got angry that elections have been canceled in regions considered strongholds of the opposition.

On Wednesday DR Congo election commission announced a deferment of elections in “the Beni region and the cities of Beni and Butembo in North Kivu province as well as Yumbi in the (southwest) Mai-Ndombe province”.

Elections are to be held in March instead of the initially scheduled December 30.

Beni and Butembo in the east continue to battle with the Ebola outbreak. Yumbi in the west has also witnessed ethnic violence in the past days with more than 100 people reportedly killed.

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Violent protests

Reuters reports that protesters reportedly attacked an Ebola isolation centre in Beni. Aruna Abedi, the deputy director of the Ebola response, told Reuters that “Protesters tried to force the door of the centre.”

He said the protesters “were chanting songs hostile to the government and demanding elections. They threw projectiles.”

Opposition supporters accuse the government of trying to disenfranchise them. Photo: AFP

Police called in to restore fired live bullets and teargas to disperse demonstrators. A resident of Beni was quoted by Reuters as saying that “There was a group of demonstrators who wanted to enter the CENI office…to demand the withdrawal of the decision” to exclude the region from upcoming elections.

The resident said “the police officers and soldiers who were there fired to disperse the demonstrators.” Security forces have now been deployed across the region and Ebola centres to prevent further attacks.

Protesters ransacked the Ebola assessment centre and took chairs and tables. Photo: Reuters

Crucial general elections

The election commission has confirmed that voting will take place elsewhere in on Sunday as planned.

Should voting take place on Sunday, final results for the presidential election will be announced on January 15 and the new president sworn in on January 18.

That means votes in the presidential election in the volatile areas to be held in March will not be factored into the presidential results.

Elections in DR Congo have already been delayed several times. The elections will be the first time the country is to witness a peaceful transfer of power through an election.

The elections will take place without President Joseph Kabila which was supposed to ease tension.


Hundreds killed in DR Congo ahead of crucial vote




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