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DRC: Belgian election observer commits suicide in Kinshasa

The fatal fall happened on Friday night in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. Congolese media reported that an inquiry was underway   -  
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EDEN EZRA/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

A Belgian IT expert present in Kinshasa to support the European mission observing the Congolese elections committed suicide on Friday night, throwing himself from the 12th floor of a hotel in the DRC capital, diplomatic sources said on Sunday.

The Congolese press reported the fatal fall on Sunday morning, and an investigation has been opened in Kinshasa.

In Brussels, the EU said it had been informed of the "tragic incident", according to a spokeswoman interviewed by AFP. "Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family, friends and colleagues", she added.

"While the investigation is underway in Kinshasa, we cannot comment further," the spokeswoman added.

Also contacted by AFP, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had been informed of the death in Kinshasa of one of its nationals who, according to a spokesman, was in the DRC "on a short-term mission".

According to diplomatic sources in Kinshasa, there is no doubt that he committed suicide.

The European Union deployed a reduced mission of eight observers in Kinshasa for the general elections held this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It had originally planned a larger mission of some fifty observers, to be deployed throughout the country, but gave up after the Congolese authorities, according to several sources, refused to allow it to use its satellite equipment.

The IT expert who killed himself in Kinshasa was part of a team supporting the mission of eight observers.

The EU had specified on December 7 that this reduced mission would carry out "a technical analysis of the electoral process and submit a report".

Scheduled for December 20, the general elections (presidential, legislative, provincial and local) have been extended, officially by a day or more in some remote areas of the vast Central African country, due to numerous logistical problems.

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