DR Congo: fear of by-elections

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In the Western Congolese Yumbi will be made up of suspended elections. But thousands of people are after the massacres in December on the run. The role of the government remains unclear. Now the UN is calling for investigations.

In two weeks, is to be elected in the Western Congolese city of Yumbi. But the population is worried: How can be granted to your safety? The actually elections planned for December had been moved to the massacres. “We are forced to hold elections,” says Baudouin, a local resident. “But how will we vote if the people of the Banunu refuge on the small Islands of the Congo river – and the other in the Republic of the Congo? When will you be back?”

The massacre, the members of the Batende-ethnicity in December to the Banunu committed, are the focus of a recently published UN report: attacks in the run-up to the elections in December 2018, be “targeted and planned” and “by the absence of the state has been relieved,” said the United Nations high Commissioner for human rights on Tuesday. The deeds between the 16. and 18. December occurred, could be classified as a crime against humanity. The UN office warns that the situation is still tense.

Extreme violence against villagers

At least 535 people died in the attacks killed and 111 more were injured, – stated in the report. The number is significantly less than initially, the UN assumed. However, it is likely that a further body had been dumped in the river. An estimated 16,000 people had been forced to flee to the neighboring Republic of the Congo. The attacks in Yumbi, and other places resembled each other and were characterized by extreme violence and speed, according to the UN report. The Banunu had been on the run, in their homes or on the open road. The report left open the question of whether there were Deaths among the Batende.

Thousands of people were displaced from Yumbi, their homes destroyed

A few days before the presidential, parliamentary and regional elections on may 30. December had announced to the Congolese electoral Commission, INEC, the elections in four out of a total of 81 constituencies to suspend. In Yumbi, the violence has been cited as a reason. In the ostkongolesischen cities of Beni and Butembo and the surrounding area of Beni in the elections because of rampant were the Ebola epidemic not feasible. The shift relates to something more than 1.2 million of about 40 million registered voters.

Allegations of Manipulation

“The state makes no effort to bring these people back here to the village,” says Baudouin of the DW. “We know that the people responsible for the massacre have the sole intention to manipulate us and to keep track of.” Who those leaders are – there is no clarity so far. The UN human rights office calls to investigate “possible involvement of state Agencies in the planning of the attacks”. Because the government have made despite the mention of a threat of danger nothing to protect the population.

The allegations of Manipulation could be, according to Gesine Ames, coordinator of the Ecumenical network Central Africa, something: “There were also in other areas of difficulties and violence, and the people had been kept from voting,” she says Interview with DW. The affected constituencies are strongholds for the Opposition. “I think there’s a political calculation behind it, to the four constituencies be abolished.”

Residents in Beni protested against the exclusion and carried out on election day, symbolic elections

Violation of the right to vote

It fits into this theory that there are circles in all the four election on may 31.March will only have to go to the national and regional parliaments: “The population is not granted the right, for you presidential elections in December continued to catch up on,” says Ames. Reason for this is the significant advantage of the used in January for a new President in the official results. “It has made the election Commission simply because thus, the presidential election is legitimate and the internationally recognized President Félix Tshisekedi is firmly seated in the saddle.” Tshisekedi was on 24. January as the successor to the long-time ruler Joseph Kabila has been sworn in.

The absence of orientation of the presidential elections in Yumbi, Beni and Butembo is a violation of the Congolese electoral law, so Ames. The CENI pressing on elections, the new Parliament will take office and a government could form, says Ames. This process was only complete when all districts have elected. The result of the will to change but nothing. The majority of the previously appointed parliamentarians come from the Kabila camp.

No time for reconciliation

According to the CENI, all means are available to the election date to be maintained. “In preparation for this elections, we have met with the Minister of the interior, since he is in charge of security,” said CENI spokesman Jean-Pierre Kalemba in the DW-Interview. “In Beni and Butembo, we have met with the Minister of health. Because all of this is the responsibility of the government. We have requested you to do everything in their Power to ensure that each return to its territory and the elections can participate.”

Still, many Displaced people remain on the Islands in the Congo river

But the people in Yumbi are traumatized and scared – too deep, the memories of sitting at the massacre. Jean Bosco Lomomo, Vice-President of the network of civil society groups in Yumbi, explains: “This is the time to talk about reconciliation. We must first be able to complete inquiries, and to condemn, if possible, the leaders who have fought in the war. Then we can talk about reconciliation.”

Staff: Wendy Bashi