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DRC’s Kabila insists vote will go ahead on December 30 | News





Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila said long-delayed polls will happen on Sunday amid uncertainties on how prepared Congo is to hold the election.

Polls, which were first scheduled to take place in 2016, have been delayed twice already and the country’s electoral commission (CENI) cancelled the December 23 vote following a fire at one of its main warehouses in Kinshasa, as well as the ongoing ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country.

“The date has now been fixed, the 30th of December, which is in two days time, and I believe that elections will take place on that particular date,” Kabila told Al Jazeera.

On Wednesday the electoral commission said voting will not take place in at least three cities citing ebola and ethnic violence.

Kabila, who has ruled the vast mineral-rich country for more than 17 years, denied claims by the opposition that polls have been delayed to extend his stay in office.

“The composition of the electoral commission does not give any advantages to any one composant – meaning you have the majority [ruling party], you have the opposition which is represented in the commission, and of course the civil society. The issue (that) the electoral commission been biased is nonsense.” Kabila added.

Elections have been delayed because the registration of the more than 46 million voters took two years to complete, the president added.

Meanwhile, angry protesters burnt tyres, ransacked an ebola centre and blocked the main road of the eastern city of Beni in North Kivu.

The demonstrators were angry that CENI said polls will take place March next year in the city. Voting has also been delayed in Butembo in the same province due to the ongoing ebola outbreak.

The outbreak, which was declared in August, is the second deadliest in history and has claimed the lives of more than 320 people.

WATCH: DR Congo election – voters concerned over credibility of polls (02:33)

Voting has also been delayed in the western city of Yumbi in Bandundu province due to ethnic violence that has left more than 100 dead people in the last month.

Despite the violence President Kabila, 47, said campaigning has been largely peaceful.

“An electoral process is always a sensitive issue. During an electoral process you have tensions, the most important thing is to have the necessary police force that is well equipped in order to deal with that. At one given time we did not have that capacity but we have been building that capacity,”  he said. 

Kabila succeeded his father – a former rebel leader – who was assassinated in 2001 by one of his bodyguards.

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

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

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.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the central African country said it would expel the European Union ambassador Bart Ouvry after the EU renewed sanctions against government officials.

Earlier this month, the EU renewed sanctions against 14 officials including the ruling coalition’s candidate for the presidential elections, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Sanctions were first placed two years ago after a violent crackdown on street protests and repeated delays to the elections.

Kinshasa has refused to accredit election observers from the European bloc.

WATCH: Inside Story – Will presidential vote in DRC ever take place? (24:50)


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister





Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa





OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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