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Congo protests turn violent as lawmakers select electoral commission chief

KINSHASA, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Police in Democratic Republic of Congo used tear fuel to interrupt up clashes between supporters of the president and an opposition chief on Saturday, as lawmakers chosen a brand new head of the electoral commission.

The National Assembly selected Denis Kadima, an election professional with many years of expertise, to steer the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), a physique that political analysts and diplomats criticised for its function within the disputed 2018 vote the place Felix Tshisekedi emerged as president.

Tshisekedi is anticipated to hunt a second time period when Congolese voters return to the polls in 2023, with CENI more likely to play a pivotal function once more.

“His (Kadima’s) electoral expertise is not disputed,” stated Tresor Kibangula, of the Congo Research Group at New York University. “However, the fact that his candidacy was pushed behind the scenes by people close to President Felix Tshisekedi quickly raised suspicions about his independence.”

Opposition chief Martin Fayulu and Tshisekedi fashioned an electoral pact within the run-up to the 2018 election, however Tshisekedi finally cut up off to kind one other political group earlier than the vote.

Amid widespread accusations of fraud, the CENI declared Tshisekedi the winner, whereas Fayulu, who stated he had received a landslide victory, got here second.

On Saturday, round 10,000 Fayulu supporters marched by way of the streets of Kinshasa in protest over a number of points together with the accusation the method to select the management of the CENI was being influenced by politicians.

Police fired tear fuel to interrupt up clashes within the Limite neighbourhood between Fayulu’s followers and people of Tshisekedi, who hurled petrol bombs on the protesters, in accordance with Reuters witnesses.

Standing on the again of a truck, Fayulu informed a big crowd of supporters that Congo wanted an unbiased and clear CENI, and a CENI president who would publish “the real results”.

Albert Malukisa, a political science professor on the Catholic University of Congo, stated Tshisekedi had already managed to realize management of the constitutional court docket.

“With the CENI, he can be confident of winning the next elections,” he stated.

Religious teams, who’re mandated by the structure to appoint the management of the CENI by consensus, have been at loggerheads for months and failed to succeed in settlement.

Leaders of the Catholic and Protestant church buildings say they’ve been pressured and threatened.

Reporting by Justin Makangara, Benoit Nyemba and Stanis Bujakera; Additional reporting and writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Bate Felix and Mike Harrison

Musicians play during a demonstration by supporters of opposition leader Martin Fayulu protesting against changes to the independence of the country’s electoral commission, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 16, 2021. REUTERS/Justin Makangara

Police rush to stop rival political supporters fighting during a protest by followers of opposition leader Martin Fayulu who were demonstrating the independence of the country’s electoral commission, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 16, 2021. REUTERS/Justin Makangara

Opposition leader Martin Fayulu, addresses a crowd of his supporters during a demonstration over the independence of the country’s electoral commission, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 16, 2021.  REUTERS/Justin Makangara

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