- Title: Congo ready to register voters in conflict-ravaged Kasai - commission president.
- Date: 28th July 2017
- Summary: NGANZA, NEAR KANANGA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (FILE - MARCH 19, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF YOUTH FROM THE KAMUINA NSAPU MILITIA WEARING RED BANDANAS WITH KNIVES TUCKED IN KAMUINA NSAPU MILITIA YOUTH CHANTING MOTORBIKES RIDING DOWN ROAD, WHERE TREE BRANCHES HAVE BEEN PLACED TO SLOW TRAFFIC
- Embargoed: 11th August 2017 15:57
- Keywords: Electoral commission voter registration elections Kasai violence Joseph Kabila Kamuina Nsapu
- Location: TSHIMBULU, IDIOFA, KANANGA AND NGANZA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- City: TSHIMBULU, IDIOFA, KANANGA AND NGANZA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- Country: Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0026RMT5QV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Improved security in central Democratic Republic of Congo's insurrection-ravaged Kasai region, has accelerated preparations for a delayed election to replace President Joseph Kabila, Congo's election commission (CENI) head, Corneille Nangaa, said on Thursday (July 27).
Kasai poses Congo's biggest security challenge and is the scene of a growing humanitarian disaster in a country where militia violence since Kabila refused to step down in December has raised fears of a slip back into civil war.
According to local authorities, the central region appears to be settling down a little, with fewer reports of unrest, especially in the main towns.
This week, Nangaa visited the Kasai region, to access on its readiness to hold electoral registration.
Despite his reassurances that the electoral commission was ready to roll out the registration, a Reuters reporter saw many enrolment centres that had been burned to ashes because of the conflict.
"Trained personnel, combined with the distribution of the voting material will lead to enrolment. What I can ask, and it is the same request for Kasai as it is for Central Kasai, the message is to call on the population for full mobilisation, that the whole of the population mobilise. They welcomed us and they are waiting for the enrolment so we will concentrate on that zone to launch the operation and go as quickly as possible. We ask them to come out of the bush, we ask them to mobilise and in particular to reject violence to express whatever anger they were feeling," Nangaa said.
The insurrection there by the Kamuina Nsapu militia, which demands the withdrawal of Congolese forces from the area, has led 1.4 million people to flee their homes and cost over 3,000 lives since last August.
Earlier this month, Nangaa said that the vote would probably not be possible this year due to delays registering voters, particularly in Kasai.
"For the CENI, the issue of enrolment is almost behind us. We have started receiving materials that will be used for the vote so we are moving forward. People must prepare themselves, the Congolese must prepare themselves for this election. It is their election, they will vote in the days to come," said Naanga.
Residents in Tshimbulu in Kasai central, where mass graves of bodies of rebel fighters where found earlier this year, say that despite the semblance of calm, they still fear for their lives.
"Kamuina Nsapu people were causing us trouble from time to time, we left our homes and went to hide in the bush, children died, others got sick. We came back home here, now, found our belongings gone, we don't know where to start in this situation," said one Tshimbulu resident, Jhone Tshibamba.
"They burned the electoral office, they took everything, we were in a delicate situation but for now it's calm, it's been calm since August," said another resident, Boniface Kabale.
Nangaa said that the commission had registered 37 million of an expected 42-45 million voters but did not say when enrolment would begin in the parts of Kasai hit hardest by the violence, nor when the commission would announce the election date.
Despite some improvement, the security situation in Kasai remains tenuous, part of wider unrest and militia violence across the country that has been aggravated by Kabila's refusal to step down in December.
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