As DRC counts votes in presidential poll, internet is cut

As DRC counts votes in presidential poll, internet is cut

As DRC counts votes in presidential poll, internet is cut

Protests and the surprise barring of 1 million voters from the polls over an Ebola outbreak marked the final days of preparations.

He is due to step down after 17 years in office, and has promised DR Congo's first orderly transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Residents line up in order to cast their ballot in an improvised polling station at Kalinda Stadium in Beni, where voting was postponed for Democratic Republic of Congo's general elections.

The run-up to the poll had been hit by violence and controversy over the decision to exclude some 1.26 million out of an electorate of almost 40 million from voting.

The decision was widely criticised as threatening the credibility of the election and putting health workers in danger as people protest.

There was frustration in Limete, a district of Kinshasa, as the electoral register had not been delivered and people were unable to vote.

They washed their hands before voting as a protection against Ebola, which is spread via infected bodily fluids.

"We want to show the Ceni [electoral commission] that if they fail to organise elections here because of Ebola, we can do it", organiser Katembo Malikidogo told the BBC.

Roughly half of survey respondents, he added, said they would reject the result if Shadary - a hardline former interior minister facing European Union sanctions for a crackdown on protesters - was declared victor.

Mr Shadary is now under European Union sanctions for human rights sanctions.

Felix Tshisekedi, the opposition leader, accused the government of deliberately creating "an election day mess" to trigger a court challenge that will extend President Kabila's stay in power.

At a polling station in South Kivu province in eastern Congo, a police officer shot dead a young man after a dispute over alleged voting fraud. CENI said the fire destroyed 80 percent of the voting machines allocated for the capital, which is home to about 15 percent of the country's electorate.

Democratic Republic of Congo's opposition said on Monday it expected one of its candidates to win the presidential election based on early vote tallies, but the ruling coalition said it was confident its candidate had won the chaotic contest.

But the Catholic bishops conference (CENCO), which deployed thousands of vote monitors, said that many polling places opened late and were located in prohibited areas.

Another observer group, Symotel, reported a multitude of problems including the movement of polling stations to new locations at the last minute, which meant confused voters did not know where to go.

"We committed to financing our electoral process entirely ourselves for the very first time in our history", Kabila said on state TV late Saturday.

Election day in the capital began with a heavy rainstorm that flooded some streets.

At least one Kinshasa polling station, only managed to open after the official closing time.

He said that despite the numerous irregularities reported, "people were determined to vote in masses".

Amid the delays and confusion, frustration grew.

Critics, however, say the vote will be tarnished by fraud, and that Kabila could continue to rule from the sidelines.

At stake is the future of a country that is desperately underdeveloped, with widespread corruption and armed militia groups operating in the east, but also rich in minerals, including those crucial to the world's smartphones and electric cars.

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