Ebola patients abscond from treatment center in Congo

Protests in eastern Congo over election postponment - Entertainment News

A Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition bloc called yesterday for a nationwide stoppage and police clashed with demonstrators in two eastern cities after upcoming elections were placed on hold in their region due to the Ebola outbreak and militia violence.

According to the ministry, the patients had to flee when the treatment center came under attack by people protesting the cancellation of Sunday's presidential election in the eastern city.

The unrest occurred a day after Congo's electoral commission announced that Sunday's election is delayed until March for the cities of Beni and Butembo because of the outbreak, meaning that more than one million votes will not count.

Opposition candidates call the delay a ploy to hurt their chances at the polls.

The electoral commission said official results of the presidential poll will be announced on January 15.

The reasons given for the latest delay aren't credible, Fayulu said.

Congo's 40 million registered voters will decide the fate of a vast country that is rich in the mineral wealth central to smartphones and electric cars but desperately poor in infrastructure and basic services.

Diplomatic relations between the European Union and Congo reached a low point on Thursday (27 December) as Congolese authorities told European Union ambassador Bart Ouvry to leave the country within 48 hours - before Sunday's presidential elections. "A large majority supports the opposition", Congo Research Group (CRG), which commissioned the polling on which the survey was based, said in a statement.

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The election already had been pushed from December 23 to Sunday after a fire in the capital, Kinshasa, destroyed voting materials. Residents voted for Kabila in past elections but sentiment has turned in recent years amid persistent insecurity.

Experts from the World Health Organisation said precautions were taken so that people could vote, including tons of hand sanitiser and a screening of all voters entering polling stations.

On Wednesday, the panel said that voting in two regions hit by violence, Beni-Butembo and Yumbi, would be postponed to March.

Fayulu, who was appointed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition as its nominee in the race to replace Joseph Kabila, is among outspoken voices against Kabila's governance.

Protesters said life has continued in the outbreak zone, with schools open, people going to church and candidates holding campaign rallies.

Beni has been affected by an Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 300 people since August.

Leader of the delegation Joseph Malanji who is also Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister told the BBC he was unable to judge whether the election will be free and fair. Health teams barely deployed on Thursday and no Ebola vaccinations could be carried out.

Health officials are anxious about reports that some Congolese think there is no Ebola outbreak at all, just a conspiracy by Kabila's government to declare a phony health emergency so he can suppress opposition voters. He also calls on everyone to protect and ensure safe access to health facilities in Ebola impacted areas.

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