Congo voting uproar 'badly disturbs' Ebola work - 12/28/2018 8:29:29 AM

Congo voting uproar 'badly disturbs' Ebola work - 12/28/2018 8:29:29 AM

Security forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo fired live rounds and tear gas on Thursday to scatter demonstrators who burned tyres and ransacked an Ebola centre in protest at their exclusion from the presidential election.

In events leading up to the vote in the eastern city Beni protesters attacked an ebola centre, demanding the right to vote.

Congo's long march to Sunday's polls took a turn for the worst on Wednesday when the country's electoral commission announced that it would be delaying the vote in three opposition strongholds due to "the persistence of the Ebola disease" and "the threat of terrorism".

Ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga told Reuters that 17 of the patients had already tested negative for Ebola, while seven had not yet been tested. Results of Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections will be released on January 15 and a new President sworn-in on January 18.

Last week the election was pushed back to December 30 due to a lack of ballot papers in the capital Kinshasa. Furious opposition leaders called the situation "unacceptable" and said the delayed, ultimately meaningless election will effectively disenfranchise over a million voters.

Kabila who has held the Presidential post for over 17 years in the country was held accountable by the opposition forces who claimed that he delayed the voting in order to extend his term in the office.

The delegation's visit to DR Congo comes after eight African states - Angola, a key alley of Mr Kabila - jointly expressed "strong concern over acts of violence" during the campaign and called for "peaceful, free, democratic and transparent" elections.

Sunday's elections will turn the page on the troubled era of President Joseph Kabila, in power for almost 18 years.

He tweeted: "I caution the [electoral commission] against any attempt to cancel the elections in Beni city, Beni territory and Butembo".

Ahead of the election on Sunday, protests have been held in several areas across the country.

Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil company manager, was little known when he was picked as the joint candidate of an opposition coalition in November, but extensive campaigning, including in Ebola-hit Beni, has since heightened his profile. School, church and other activities have continued in Beni and Butembo despite the Ebola outbreak. Such attacks have hurt efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak, which since being declared August 1 has seen 585 cases, including 308 confirmed deaths.

Fayulu, who was appointed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition as its nominee in the race to replace Joseph Kabila, is among outspoken voices against Kabila's governance.

The vote crowns two years of turmoil, sharpening worries that the fragile giant of central Africa may once more spiral into violence.

It is believed to have killed more than 350 people so far.

Congo's health minister has said health authorities and electoral authorities had worked together on preparing for the election and that precautions had been taken to protect voters. It spreads through contact with bodily fluids and causes hemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding. Health officials have said people would sanitize their hands before and after voting.

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