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Congo’s opposition leaders warn of vote-rigging

KINSHASA — Congo’s opposition leaders warned thousands of supporters at a rally in the capital Kinshasa yesterday of what they say are moves by the government to steal the presidential election in December, when Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 17 years.

The introduction of electronic voting and the authorities’ exclusion of a number of candidates from the ballot has united opposition parties ahead of the long-delayed vote on December 23 that will choose a successor to Kabila.

Despite the suspension of all state public transport in the capital and the presence of heavily armed police, the rally site was thronged with supporters waving flags and hand-made signs with slogans such as “RIP voting machines.”

Addressing the crowd, Felix Tshisekedi, the president of Congo’s largest opposition party and a front-runner to replace Kabila, said opposition forces would remain united in the run-up to the election.

“No one will divide us. We will not cheat, anyone who cheats will provoke a scandal,” he said.

While united on some issues, opposition leaders have yet to coalesce behind a single candidate despite repeated promises to do so.

A key common concern relates to the introduction of tablet-style devices for voting, which some say are more vulnerable to vote-rigging and could be compromised by the unreliability of Congo’s power supply. —Reuters

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