Violence erupts as Congo polls close

 

Kinshasha

Polling stations were closed a day late in the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday in an election that has been mired in accusations of fraud, intimidation and violence. International observers will give their initial verdict later today but opposition parties were already alleging foul play.

President Joseph Kabila is widely tipped to win re-election despite leading the country for a decade during which it has sunk to the bottom of the UN's development index.

Voting proceeded chaotically but peacefully in many areas. There were, however, reports of lynchings and ballot stuffing. Voting was carried over into a second day after ballots failed to reach several areas of Congo's interior, while tens of thousands of city-dwellers couldn't find their names on the register and failed to vote.

At least two officials were badly hurt by crowds in the capital who accused them of trying to stuff ballot boxes with pre-marked voting papers. Serious violence erupted in the mining centre of Lubumbashi where five people were killed in an attack on a truck carrying allegedly pre-marked ballot papers and on a polling station.

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