Towns delayed by conflict and Ebola vote in DR Congo parliamentary polls

At stake are 15 seats in DR Congo’s lower house of parliament, which counts 500 lawmakers.
A man casts his vote in the Mavivi neighborhood polling station in Beni on March 31, 2019 during partial parliamentary elections held today in parts of the country that were unable to participate in December’s vote due to security issues and an ongoing Ebola epidemic. (Photo by Luke DENNISON / AFP)

Voters in Beni and Butembo, towns in northeastern DR Congo, that witnessed conflict and an Ebola epidemic, took part in long-delayed elections on Sunday.

Parliamentary and municipal polls also took place in the western Yumbi region some 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the capital Kinshasa.

All three are opposition strongholds in the vast central African country, with a combined electorate of around one million.

Voting was proceeding smoothly in the Mavivi and Ngadi districts of Beni that have seen frequent unrest involving armed militias, according to an AFP correspondent on the ground.

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

But they are not eligible to vote in the presidential election, three months after veteran opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won that vote, the country’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The votes will not have any impact on the balance of power in parliament, where the party of former president Joseph Kabila won a commanding majority of seats.

Tshisekedi’s party is working to put together a coalition government with Kabila’s.

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.

The polling follows an uptick in cases of Ebola in recent days after a lull of several weeks. The epidemic, which broke out in August, has so far killed more than 650 people.


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