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DR Congo election board delays vote in three cities | News

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Kinshasa, DRC – The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s electoral commission (CENI) has postponed Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary vote in three cities in the vast country, citing concerns over Ebola and violence.

CENI said in a statement on Wednesday that election in the eastern cities of Beni and Butembo in North Kivu province and the western city of Yumbi – in Bandundu province – will take place in March 2019.

Voting will take place in the rest of the country as scheduled, the statement added.

There is an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country with calls for the vote to be postponed. More than 320 people have so far been killed in the outbreak – the second worst in history.

The latest outbreak started in May 2018.

Meanwhile, ethnic violence in the western part of the country left at least 100 people dead last week.

The electoral commission said official results of the presidential poll will be announced on January 15.

The announcement about the postponement comes four days after CENI told Al Jazeera that polls would take place in the Ebola-hit parts of the country.

Since November 28, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases of Ebola in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

More than 46 million Congolese have registered to take part in the poll that has been repeatedly delayed.

The postponement has not gone down well with voter in Beni, an opposition stronghold. Many in the city are accusing the commission of denying them their democratic right to cast their ballot.

“This is just provocation. We can’t accept this after waiting for more than two years. We are not ready to allow another delay while we continue to die on daily basis from attacks and Ebola,” Simon Sikuli, a 34-year-old activist told Al Jazeera by phone.

“We can’t wait to go and vote on Sunday like all other Congolese. Why more delay for  Beni. We have been waiting for long and can’t afford another delay,” he added.

Meanwhile, Esperence Kasiviro, said election should be held no matter the situation.

“This new delay has come just to cause people here to revolt. It’s not normal and we cannot understand this regime what it wants. We have allowed them to delay up to Sunday but not up to March.

“This, we don’t really take. Enough is enough. They are not right to use Ebola as a reason to put us on hold. What if the epidemic is not off in March? We demand elections to be held here as well on Sunday.

“We have been victims for long and now, we want to get peace back for us to develop our territory. That’s all,” Kasiviro said.

Elections were first scheduled to be held in 2016. It was then postponed to December 23 this year and then to December 30.

Earlier this month, a fire destroyed one of the main warehouses of the electoral body, damaging nearly 80 percent of the 10,000 voting machines meant for the capital, Kinshasa, home to about 15 percent of the country’s electorate.

The highly-contested poll is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is due to step down after 18 years in power.

As many as 21 candidates are competing for the country’s top job.

The DRC, a country of more than 80 million people, has not seen a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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