Election fears dim Christmas cheer in Congo

By Alessandra Prentice KINSHASA (Reuters) - It's Christmas in Democratic Republic of Congo, but the atmosphere is more uneasy than festive as frustrated citizens wonder if a postponed presidential vote will take place as promised on Dec. 30. Last week the opposition accepted the authorities' decision to push the long-anticipated vote back by seven days, but have warned of mass protest and upheaval if there is a further delay.

Reuters December 25, 2018 04:05:41 IST
Election fears dim Christmas cheer in Congo

Election fears dim Christmas cheer in Congo

By Alessandra Prentice

KINSHASA (Reuters) - It's Christmas in Democratic Republic of Congo, but the atmosphere is more uneasy than festive as frustrated citizens wonder if a postponed presidential vote will take place as promised on Dec. 30.

Last week the opposition accepted the authorities' decision to push the long-anticipated vote back by seven days, but have warned of mass protest and upheaval if there is a further delay.

In a Christmas sermon delivered on Monday in the cathedral of Notre Dame du Congo in Kinshasa, Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo said lasting peace depended on the authorities sticking to their electoral promises.

"To have real peace today in our country we must have elections on the set date of December 30 2018," he said.

"Real peace today means also that the published results truly reflect the will of the people as expressed through the ballot boxes."

Members of the Saint Benoit Catholic church in one of Kinshasa's poorer districts understand what's at stake.

In February, a congregant was gunned down in the churchyard by security forces during a crackdown on protests demanding the prompt organisation of elections to replace President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate expired in 2016.

On Christmas eve, parishioners described how the violence and political uncertainty weighs on their spirits.

"We are celebrating the birth of Jesus and people are stressed," said Yannick Tshimanga, whose brother was the one shot and killed on Feb. 25, as he tried to close the gates to the church.

He was one of dozens of civilians killed in church-led anti-Kabila protests across the country in early 2018.

"There are children whose parents have spilled their blood under this regime who are going to celebrate without their parents," he said. "It is in this climate that we are having to celebrate."

Around him, work was underway to spruce up the grounds in preparation for a visit from Archbishop Ambongo, who had chosen to lead mass in Saint Benoit on Christmas Day.

Young boys sloshed water across a chapel floor, swept the church rafters with long-handled brooms and picked weeds from the packed earth of the churchyard.

"Before at Christmas, the children would have decorated all the streets, but how can we celebrate like that now?," said one older parishioner, who asked not to be named because she "does not want to be visited by the police."

She recalled how security forces had fired tear gas canisters into the church, where people had taken refuge after Tshimanga's brother was shot on Feb. 25.

For her and other church-members who Reuters spoke to, further standoffs with police are inevitable if the country's hopes for a free and fair vote on Sunday are dashed once again.

"We want change. We don't want Kabila, he's killed so many of us," she said. "The people are angry, even the children."

(Additional reporting by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts
Business

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts

By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices strengthened on Wednesday, as OPEC and its allies were seen complying with a pact to cut oil supply in September, even as concerns loomed that recovery in fuel demand will be stalled by soaring global coronavirus cases. Early in the day crude was boosted by a bullish stock market. Even as equities whipsawed on pandemic worries, oil stayed higher, buoyed by expectations that OPEC could staunch a supply glut

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000
Business

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000

By Tina Bellon and C Nivedita (Reuters) - Tesla Inc will further cut the price of its Model S "Long Range" sedan in the United States to $69,420, the electric carmaker's chief executive, Elon Musk, announced in a tweet https://bit.ly/2H0JCP0 on Wednesday. The anticipated drop marks the second time this week Tesla has cut the price for the high-end sedan, following a 4% cut of the Model S's price in the United States on Tuesday to $71,990.

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen
World

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen

By Jeff Mason DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Under siege over his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump on Wednesday cited what he said was his son's mild bout of the virus as a reason why American schools should reopen as soon as possible. Trump made the comment about his son, Barron, as the president swept into Iowa on a mission to shore up support in battleground states that he won in 2016 but is in danger of losing to Democrat Joe Biden barely three weeks before the election. First lady Melania Trump announced in a statement earlier in the day that the virus that struck both her and her husband had also infected their 14-year-old son