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Congo: anti-government protests escalate amid election concerns

Tensions erupted in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as security forces clashed with anti-government protesters on Saturday. Demonstrators voiced their concerns over alleged voter registration discrepancies, escalating living costs, and ongoing insecurity in the country’s east.

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Security forces used tear gas against the protesters, leading to confrontations and a number of arrests. “The procession is not allowed to come here,” stated Police Commander Faustin Numbi, justifying the response to the protesters.

The turmoil emerges ahead of the general election set for December 20. President Felix Tshisekedi is expected to seek re-election, but the political climate is increasingly strained, with opposition candidates expressing dissatisfaction over the voter registration process.

Prominent opposition figures, including Martin Fayulu, runner-up in the 2018 presidential election, and millionaire businessman Moise Katumbi, initiated the protest. “It’s sad…they are firing tear gas,” Katumbi told journalists, while Fayulu reported security forces surrounding his vehicle and employing tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

In a telephone interview, Fayulu stressed, “the electoral register is not reliable and we’ll not compromise on this issue.” Sunday is slated for the publication of voter registration data by Congo’s electoral commission, a move that is expected to intensify the situation further.

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