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D.R Congo heads to polls amidst security, health crisis

D.R Congo heads to polls amidst security, health crisis

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Campaign towards the December 23 presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been marked by acts of violence. At least 5 supporters were killed on the sidelines of candidate’s meetings.

It is an atmosphere that recalls the demonstrations of 2016, before Joseph Kabila’s mandate expired and security forces shot down 26 demonstrators.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, fears that Kabila is preparing a war against his own people.

The Congolese people have experienced immense suffering for 20 years and we no longer need conflict. We are already living in a state of almost permanent conflict.

‘‘The Congolese people have experienced immense suffering for 20 years and we no longer need conflict. We are already living in a state of almost permanent conflict. But this exacerbation (resulting from the conflict believes that it is likely to follow the election) could be fatal for this wounded population. And so, I think we must avoid that, today we must not wait until 24 December when all candidates will use non-peaceful means to claim (victory) and act. I think there are many signs today that the elections will be anything but transparent, credible and above all peaceful”, the Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

Authorities are also concerned about the resurgence of community conflicts, particularly in the town of Beni, where more than 3,000 troops have been deployed.

The main threat remains including that of Ugandan ADF fighters and Mai Mai militiamen, who, according to the army, were responsible for Sunday’s fire against the electoral body’s warehouse in the east of the country, raising concerns about the elections.

Another concern is the Ebola virus, which has so far infected nearly 500 people and killed more than 200. The second worst epidemic in the history of the DRC.

D.R Congo is Africa’s biggest miner of copper and metals used in gadgets, like cobalt and coltan. However, a slowdown linked to falls in commodity prices has triggered steep budget cuts and a 30 percent fall in the Congolese franc.

More than half of the world’s cobalt, which is a key component in lithium-ion batteries, comes from the DRC.

Competition for the Central African nation’s vast mineral resources has fuelled two decades of conflict in its eastern provinces, including a 1998-2003 regional war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease.

Reuters

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