DR Congo police fire tear gas to disperse protests over election chief

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Kinshasa – Thousands of opposition activists marched across Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa on Monday in renewed protest against the nomination of the election commission’s new head.

Demonstrators braved rain and a ban on protests because of the COVID-19 outbreak to voice their opposition to the proposed appointment of Ronsard Malonda as president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Critics in Congo say Malonda is too close to former President Joseph Kabila, who still wields strong influence, and say his oversight of a contested 2018 election was problematic.

Police used tear gas to disperse crowds near parliament and in the east of the capital, where Jean-Pierre Bemba, a senior figure in the opposition party alliance of LAMUKA, led a march of thousands, a Reuters witness said.

At least three people died in nationwide protests over Malonda’s appointment last week.

Malonda was a senior member of CENI during the 2018 election which was marred by accusations the commission tampered with results to deny victory to LAMUKA’s candidate Martin Fayulu.

“We do not want Ronsard Malonda at the head of the CENI, he is the driving force behind electoral cheating,” said a LAMUKA supporter named Edmond, who declined to give his full name.

Last week LAMUKA in a statement called Malonda an “agent” of Kabila’s FCC political alliance, and demanded a financial and operational audit of CENI.

The last month has seen rising tensions in the ruling coalition between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, who maintains extensive power through his parliamentary majority.

(Reuters/NAN)


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