The Democratic Republic of Congo election body’s decision of postponing Sunday’s presidential and legislative election in three cities until next March has resulted in strike and protests all across the nation.
The voting has been delayed in Beni and Butembo in the east, which has been dealing with an Ebola outbreak since August, and Yumbi in the west, where over 100 people were killed in violence since last week.
“The persistence of the Ebola epidemic that continues to dangerously strike the electoral districts of Beni, the city of Beni and the city of Butembo…as well as the terrorist threat that lingers in the region,” the CENI cited the reason for the delay.
According to BBC, demonstrators, who are disappointed by the announcement, ransacked an Ebola isolation center in Beni, thereby forcing the Congolese police to fire tear gas into crowds of protesters and shot bullets into the air on Thursday. Notably, both Beni and Butembo are a stronghold of support for the opposition to President Joseph Kabila.
Martin Fayulu, leader of the main opposition Lamuka coalition, has announced a nationwide shutdown on Friday to protest CENI’s decision.
“We are launching a patriotic call for a dead city day on Friday, December 28th, over the entire expanse of the Republic. #Beni, #Butembo and #Yumbi are an integral part of the #RDC which is one and indivisible,” Fayulu wrote on Twitter.
The upcoming Presidential election is meant to choose a successor for Mr. Kabila, who has been in office since 2001. While he was meant to step down in 2016, he refused to leave the office.
The rest of the country will go to the polls on Sunday as announced earlier after more than two years of delay. The final election results for the presidential election sans the three cities will be announced on January 15 and the new president will be sworn in on January 18, 2019.