Thousands of people demonstrate in DR Congo to demand a neutral electoral body | News of the protests

The protests were sparked by concerns about the independence of the electoral commission.

Police in the Democratic Republic of the Congo fired tear gas as members of the ruling party tried to stop tens of thousands from demonstrating to demand a neutral election commission.

About 10,000 opposition protesters marched through the streets of Kinshasa on Saturday and shot down a statue of President Félix Tshisekedi.

They were greeted by members of the ruling Party for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who tried to stop the march by throwing Molotov cocktails, witnesses told Reuters news agency.

Police fired tear gas to disperse them and allowed the protest to continue.

The protests were sparked by the proposal of six religious groups to install Denis Kadima as head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Religious groups, which are constitutionally mandated to appoint by consensus the leadership of the CENI, had disagreed for months and failed to reach an agreement.

Kadima’s appointment has sparked anger as he is seen as corrupt and has close ties to Tshisekedi.

Political analysts and diplomats criticized the CENI for its role in the disputed 2018 vote, where Tshisekedi became president.

Opposition leader Martin Fayulu and Tshisekedi had formed an electoral pact ahead of the 2018 elections, but Tshisekedi ultimately split up to form another political group ahead of the vote.

CENI declared Tshisekedi the winner, while Fayulu, who said he had a landslide victory, came in second.

Fayulu was among the leaders of the protest on Saturday, along with former Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito.

Tshisekedi is expected to run for a second term when Congolese voters return to the polls in 2023, with the CENI likely playing a central role again.

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