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Thu, 14 Nov 2019 06:55 GMT

Congo Cuts Internet at Start of Presidential Vote Count


7Dnews London

Tue, 01 Jan 2019 09:49 GMT

The Congolese government has cut the internet across the country in what appears to be an effort to prevent social media speculation about the results, as votes were counted on Monday December 31st in Congo's long-delayed presidential election. The balloting has been plagued by many problems. 

The country's two main observer groups denounced the closure of the internet and Bishop Abraham Djamba, head of Congo's Symocel observation mission, asked the government to restore the service. 

The official results are expected to be announced on January 15th, with preliminary results coming within a week. 

Observers recorded many difficulties on Sunday, despite the registration of more than 40 million Congolese to vote.

The opening of hundreds of polling stations was delayed due to the absence of lists required for registered voters and many voters could not find their names on the lists. In addition, there were defects in more than 500 electronic voting machines. 

President Joseph Kabila's government also decided at the last minute to bar an estimated one million people in two eastern cities of the country, strongholds of the opposition, from Sunday's vote, citing the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Observers and the opposition fear that President Kabila, who views former Interior Minister Emanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor, might be biased, and expect tensions to erupt in the country, which is plagued by corruption and armed militias.

Shadary, who is under EU sanctions for a crackdown on people protesting delays in the election, is being contested by 21 candidates, among them top opposition leaders Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi.