The pope prayed with tens of thousands of visitors in St. Peter's Square for a peaceful election in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Elections are taking place there this Sunday, which were accompanied by sometimes violent protests.
The presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been overshadowed by fears of renewed violence and allegations of rigging. Some 40 million voters were called on Sunday to elect a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has been in office since 2001 and was not allowed to run again. Kabila had postponed the election for two years. It is expected to mark the first peaceful transfer of power in Congo since the central African country gained independence in 1960.
Voters excluded because of Ebola and fighting
An agreement aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility around the elections was not reached between the three main candidates, as reported by the French foreign broadcaster RFI. The fact that 1.2 million voters in opposition strongholds were effectively barred from voting because of the Ebola outbreak and ongoing fighting with militias was a source of displeasure. They are to be able to vote in March – when the new president will be long in office according to plan.
21 candidates were admitted to the election. Kabila's preferred successor is former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. However, because of the bloody suppression of protests, he was sanctioned by the EU. He is not allowed to enter the EU, and his assets in the EU have been frozen.
Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi are considered to be promising opposition candidates. Whoever gets the most votes is elected. A second round of voting is not planned. There are doubts about the fairness and credibility of the election, which was last held once again by 23. to the 30. December had been postponed. The reason was a major fire that destroyed numerous voting computers. There is much distrust of electronic voting.
Violence against opposition members
The opposition has warned for weeks of manipulation and forgery. During the election campaign, there was widespread violence against members of the opposition. Kabila's term officially expired at the end of 2016, but he repeatedly postponed the elections scheduled for November 2016 and only agreed to a date under massive prere.
Around 300 people have been killed in protests since then, according to Amnesty. In addition to the presidential election, parliamentary and regional elections will be held Sunday. Congo is rich in raw materials such as coltan, but is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Two years after the actual election date, around 40 million eligible voters can vote on the succession to President Joseph Kabila. Kabila has ruled since 2001 and may not run again after two terms in office. Election overshadowed by allegations of manipulation and protests against the government. The election campaign was often accompanied by violence.