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DRC presidential election: What you should know | Elections 2018 News





Kinshasa, DRC – Millions of voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo will head to the polls tomorrow to choose a successor to long-time President Joseph Kabila.

President Kabila is stepping down after ruling the mineral-rich country for 17 years and his handpicked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, is one of 21 candidates competing for the country’s top job.

What are the five things you should know about DRC and its election?

Peaceful power transfer?

Kinshasa is trying to buck past trends by ensuring a peaceful transfer of power for the first time since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila, 47, came to power following the assassination of his father by one of his bodyguards in 2001.

Kabila, then 29 years of age, became the world’s youngest leader.

His father was a rebel leader who overthrew the long-serving Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 with the help of troops from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

Mobutu was a larger-than-life leader known for expensive shopping trips to the French capital, Paris.

The former army chief came to power in 1965 through a coup backed by former colonial power Belgium.

He overthrew the country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba – a Pan-Africanist – was imprisoned by the Mobutu regime and then executed firing squad, his body chopped up, and dissolved in acid.


The central African country is currently in the midst of an Ebola outbreak in its eastern parts. The outbreak, declared in August, is the second deadliest in history.

According to the World Health Organization it has claimed more than 330 lives.

The electoral commission (CENI) delayed the December 23 vote by a week in part because of the Ebola outbreak.

On Wednesday, CENI said voting will not take place in Beni and Butembo in the eastern North Kivu province until March 2019 because of the deadly viral disease.

Peace and security

DRC, home to more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, continues to face security challenges especially in the eastern part of the country.

Ongoing conflicts in areas like North Kivu, Ituri and Kasai provinces have uprooted hundreds of thousands.

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the conflict displaced 1.7 million people in 2018.

An average of 5,500 people fled their homes every day in the country this year, according to a report released by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The UN has its largest and most expensive peacekeeping mission in the country with about 18,000 uniformed personnel.

The mission has been instrumental in the defeat of the M23 rebel group – one of the largest armed groups in DRC.

In the run-up to the vote, ethnic violence increased significantly. CENI has postponed voting in Yumbi in the western Bandundu province until March next year following the conflict that left more than 100 people dead.


DRC is roughly the size of Western Europe and that is proving a challenge when it comes to transporting voting materials to far-flung parts of the country.

The country doesn’t have a road network connecting its eastern to western part or southern to northern part.

The United Nations has offered logistics support to the electoral body but that has been turned down.

Voting machines

For the first time, DRC voters will use voting machines to cast their ballot.

Voters will elect the candidate of their choice using a tablet-like machine before their choice is printed out on a ballot paper.

The voter then submits their ballot paper, which is then counted after polls close.

CENI wants to deploy more than 100,000 of the South Korean-made voting machines across the country.

The electoral commission says the devices will cut costs and speed up the voting and counting process.

But the opposition, civil society groups and some observers fear the machines could be used to rig an election.

The machines have not been tested in the DRC previously.


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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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