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African leaders voice concern over DRC violence

media Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of Congo-Brazzaville, hosted a meeting of African leaders who discussed the postponed elections in Democratic Republic of Congo. © Wikimedia

Five African heads of state on Wednesday voiced strong concern over the violence during the presidential campaign of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where voting has been postponed until March in the regions of Beni-Butembo and Yumbi.

Clashes in some locations are enough to compromise voter's peace of mind, said a statement issued at the end of a summit hosted by President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville.

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa and the Namibian president Hage Geingob, who also heads the Southern African Development Community (SADC) joined him around the table in Brazzaville along with Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu and his Botswanan counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi.

President João Lourenço of Angola, which shares a 2,500 kilometre border with the DRC, also attended.

However a DRC representative was not present at the talks but summit leaders decided that a delegation of foreign ministers would present their conclusions to DRC President Joseph Kabila on Thursday.

About a dozen people have died in DRC campaign violence according to various sources. The DRC government has disputed the figures.

Martin Fayulu, presidential candidate for the opposition Lamuka party, claims that he was prevented from visiting three cities, Kindu, Kolwezi and Kinshasa, during the campaign.

"The Congolese people are asking for help because we are living under the rampant dictatorship of Mr. Kabila," Fayulu told RFI.

"We think these heads of state will take the misery endured by the Congolese people into account,” he added.

The DRC elections will choose a successor to Kabila who has been in charge for nearly 18 years. The 47-year-old was supposed to step down at the end of 2016 after reaching the end of his second term in office.

But he stayed on after invoking a caretaker clause in the constitution.

The elections were initially postponed until the end of 2017 under a deal brokered by the Catholic church. They did not take place and a date at the end of 2018 was set.

The country's election commission then moved the date from 23 to 30 December  after a fire destroyed voting equipment stored in a warehouse in Kinshasa on 13 December.

Despite the postponements in Beni-Butembo and Yumbi, the timetable for the presidential elections, has not changed. The next head of state is scheduled to be sworn in on 18 January.

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