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

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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.

Ebola

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.

Logistics

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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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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