Ebola fears force election delay in 3 DR Congo cities

Parts of Congo where there are fears of a widespread Ebola outbreak will not be able to vote until March. The area is also a stronghold of support for the opposition to longtime strongman Joseph Kabila.

Congolese police fired teargas into crowds of protestors and shot bullets into the air in the eastern cities of Beni and Butembo on Thursday.

Demonstrations have erupted across Congo’s areas hardest-hit by Ebola after the government announced it would delay voting in the country’s upcoming elections in these regions.

In Beni, witnesses told Reuters new agency that demonstrators ransacked an Ebola isolation center and it was possible that some patients had fled.

At least six people have been arrested in the province of North Kivu, the area most affected by the voting delay. The area is also a stronghold of political opposition to President Joseph Kabila.

Around 3 percent of Congo’s 40 million eligible voters will have to wait until March to cast their vote.

Congo is due to finally hold its presidential election on December 30 after more than two years of postponements.

President Kabila, who is to step down after the vote, has been in power for 18 years after succeeding his assassinated father. His succession would be the first democratic transition to take place in Kinshasa since its independence from Belgium in 1960.

The run-up to the vote has been marked by break outs of violence and a clampdown on opposition rallies  partially orchestrated by Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister and President Kabila ‘s hand-picked successor.

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