Democratic Republic of Congo bans opposition protests following election – JURIST

At a press conference Tuesday, the Vice Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced that planned protests against the electoral commission (CENI) would not be permitted. The protest, which was planned to take place in Kinshasa, was called by five oppositional candidates to incumbent Felix Tshisekedi. Early results from the December 20 election showed an 80 percent lead for President Tshisekedi. However, protestors say that CENI’s results were marred by irregularities. In remote areas of the country, there were logistics issues and voting extensions, as well as poll closures. So far, CENI has not released information about how many of the 44 million voters successfully cast their ballots.

The five opposition candidates signed a letter to the government early Tuesday indicating their intent to organize protests against CENI’s handling of the election. One of the candidates, former governor Moise Katumbi, called for the election to be annulled. In his press conference, Vice Prime Minister Peter Kazadi said that the protests would be banned because they threatened to undermine the electoral process before final results were released. He also said that troops would be deployed to the provinces in order to ensure the security of the people.

Security has been a major concern for this election cycle in the country. On December 2, the EU cancelled their electoral observation mission in the DRC due to security concerns. Later on December 14, Katumbi suspended campaign events after a violent incident at a rally. As recently as December 17, Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into electoral violence in DRC and its impact on the credibility of the election.

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