DR Congo’s delayed parliamentary elections to hold on March 31st

Felix Tshisekedi was elected president in the country’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 10, 2019, Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi attends the 32nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa. – The new leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo will visit Washington next week as the United States seeks a fresh start in working with the country to combat ills including corruption, the State Department said on March 26, 2019. Tshisekedi will visit Washington from April 3-5 in the first official trip by a leader of the vast, resource-rich nation to the United States in five years. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

DR Congo officials confirmed that parliamentary elections will be held on Sunday in parts of country that were unable to participate in December’s vote due to security issues and an ongoing Ebola epidemic.

The vote, which will also involve municipal elections, will take place in Beni and Butembo, two cities in North Kivu, which lies on the country’s eastern border with Uganda. 

Elections will also take place in the western Yumbi region some 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the capital Kinshasa.

At stake are 15 seats in DR Congo’s lower house of parliament, which counts 500 lawmakers.

Millions of Congolese voters went to the polls on December 30 for long-delayed presidential and parliamentary elections.

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Veteran opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was elected president in the country’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Tshisekedi’s party is working to cobble together a coalition government with the party of former president Joseph Kabila, which won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections.

The formation of the new government is being closely watched for signs that Kabila will continue to hold sway in the nation’s politics if many top cabinet posts are filled by his supporters.

A Congolese television executive with links to Kabila, on Saturday accused the new authorities of censorship, after his channel’s signal was cut in Kinshasa.

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“Since (saturday) morning the analogue signal of Tele 50 has been cut with no reason given to us,” the station’s director general Jean-Marie Kasamba told AFP.

“I appeal to the defenders of press freedoms to get Tele 50’s rights restored without delay,” he added.

A Congolese media ministry official, speaking to AFP, rejected any suggestion of a political motive, citing an international obligation to gradually switch from analogue to digital channels.

One of Tele 50’s main shareholders in Moise Ekanga, a close ally of form president Kabila. 

Sunday’s parliamentary elections followed delays in voting in Beni and Butembo which have been badly hit by an Ebola epidemic which broke out in August and has so far killed more than 650 people.

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In Yumbi at least 535 civilians were killed in three days of intercommunal bloodshed just a fortnight before the elections, according to UN figures. 

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