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DRC faces risk of violence and crisis as elections loom: ICG Report

Police officers secure the Les Anges primary school in Kinshasa, Congo. Sunday Dec. 30, 2018   -  
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Jerome Delay/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo faces the risk of descending into violence and national crisis as it approaches the December elections, according to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG).

The ICG warns that a badly-run election, coupled with violence that excludes many citizens from voting, could hinder the DRC's progress towards a more democratic future and economic stability.

While the last elections in 2018 marked a peaceful transition of power with President Félix Tshisekedi taking office, the ICG's report, published on October 30, notes deteriorating security in parts of the country and a failure of the mineral boom to improve people's lives. However, Tshisekedi has bolstered his position by adding political heavyweights to his coalition.

The report highlights challenges to smooth elections, including rising political tensions, logistical challenges and transparency issues with the National Independent Electoral Commission. Additionally, fighting between government forces and insurgents in North Kivu and insecurity elsewhere pose risks.

The enforcement of martial law in two eastern provinces, suppression of protests, and the potential for security forces to commit abuses during election campaigning are other concerns. The ICG also warns of clashes between party supporters, increased attacks by armed groups, and violent disputes at polling stations.

The international community is called upon to encourage the government and opposition to find compromises on contentious issues and stand ready to mediate if election results are contested, particularly influential African powers in Kinshasa and Western actors.

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