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Opposition candidate in Congo alleges police fired bullets as protesters search re-do of election

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KINSHASA, Congo — A most important opposition candidate in Congo accused police of utilizing reside bullets to interrupt up a protest Wednesday within the capital, as demonstrators demanded a re-do of final week’s presidential election.

Holding up a bullet, Martin Fayulu advised The Related Press that it landed close to him whereas he was barricaded inside his headquarters throughout a standoff with police. His declare couldn’t be verified.

Police mentioned no reside bullets have been used, solely tear fuel, and that they have been restoring order. AP journalists noticed police bodily assaulting a number of the protesters.

Fayulu is one in every of 5 opposition candidates who referred to as the protest.

Some rights teams and worldwide observers even have questioned the vote and alleged it was prolonged illegally. Many polling stations have been late in beginning, and a few did not open in any respect. Some lacked supplies, and plenty of voter playing cards have been illegible because the ink had smudged.

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In some components of Congo, folks have been nonetheless voting 5 days after the election.

“I really feel unhealthy this isn’t a rustic anymore,” Fayulu mentioned, including that Congolese won’t settle for it if President Felix Tshisekedi is said the winner of one other time period. If there isn’t any revote, the demonstrations will proceed, Fayulu mentioned.

As of Tuesday night, Tshisekedi had practically 79% of the vote, opposition chief and businessman Moise Katumbi had about 14% and Fayulu had about 4% of some 6 million counted votes. The ultimate outcomes are anticipated earlier than the brand new 12 months.

Tshisekedi has spent a lot of his time in workplace attempting to realize legitimacy after a disputed 2018 election, the place some observers mentioned Fayulu was the rightful winner. Some 44 million folks — nearly half the inhabitants — had been anticipated to vote on this 12 months’s contest.

The electoral commentary mission of the Nationwide Episcopal Convention of Congo and the Church of Christ in Congo mentioned greater than 27% of voting stations didn’t open and there have been 152 reviews of violence, confrontations or brawls. That is primarily based on a sampling of 1,185 observer reviews.

No less than 100 demonstrators gathered round Fayulu’s headquarters on Wednesday throwing rocks and burning tires. Some barricaded themselves inside as police fired tear fuel and rubber bullets. Some officers stormed the headquarters.

“We don’t agree with these elections that simply occurred. We the folks need peace within the nation, that’s why we’re asking that the elections be credible, clear and peaceable,” mentioned one protester, Christian Lampa.

The demonstrators hoped to march to the election fee, however the authorities on Tuesday banned the protest.

Fayulu’s assistant, Prince Epenge, confirmed a bloodstained flooring within the headquarters and asserted that 11 folks had been injured and brought to a hospital. That would not instantly be confirmed.

Rights teams warned that extra protests might come.

“If (the election fee) decides to proceed, it’ll plunge the nation into complete chaos, and the folks won’t let their rights be trampled underfoot by a bunch of energy hungry people,” mentioned Crispin Tshiya, an activist with native rights group LUCHA.


Jean-Yves Kamale in Kinshasa contributed.

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