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DR Congo elections put back because of violence

China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-28 09:36

A man rides on the back of a vehicle past election banners in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec 27, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

KINSHASA - Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday announced that key elections due to take place nationwide on Dec 30 would be postponed to March in two regions troubled by violence.

But those delays will not affect the timetable for the presidential ballot, which is being held alongside legislative and provincial elections, the national election commission CENI announced.

"The 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 initially scheduled for December 30 will now be held in March," according to CENI.

The "final results" of the presidential vote will still be published on Jan 15, and the next president will be sworn in on Jan 18.

CENI did not explain how this would dovetail with the outcome of the vote in the troubled regions, which would take place much later.

Roughly 3 percent of about 40 million registered voters will be affected by the delay.

The elections were due to have been held on Dec 23, climaxing a long period of bloodstained turbulence.

But CENI ordered a weeklong postponement, blaming a warehouse fire that destroyed voting machines and ballot papers earmarked for Kinshasa.

Meanwhile, five African heads of state on Wednesday voiced "strong concern over acts of violence" during the presidential campaign of the DRC.

Clashes in some locations are enough "to compromise voter's peace of mind", added a statement issued at the end of a one-day summit held in the neighboring Republic of Congo.

A DRC representative was not present, but summit leaders decided that a delegation of foreign ministers would present "their conclusions" to DRC President Joseph Kabila on Thursday.

On Wednesday, eight nations in southern and Central Africa mulled the situation in DRC, a country that has been a regional battleground twice in the last quarter-century.

The mini-summit was held in Brazzaville, four days before problem-strewn elections across the border.

African leaders focused on "the electoral process in the DRC", said Cyprien Sylvestre Mamina, secretary-general for foreign affairs in the Republic of Congo.

The meeting brought together many members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Those attending were Angola, Botswana, Republic of Congo, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

Five countries were represented by their presidents, while the others sent foreign ministers or lower-level officials.

The DRC elections are to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, in charge of the volatile mineral-rich country for nearly 18 years.

Agence France-Presse

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