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DRC vote: Opposition says ruling party win would be ‘provocation’ | News

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Kinshasa, DRC – Vote counting has started in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s long-delayed election as the opposition claimed it will not accept a ruling party victory.

“I cannot see how Mr Shadary (the ruling party’s candidate) can win. I doubt anyone will have the courage to proclaim Shadary as the winner. It will be a provocation,” Martin Fayulu, leader of the opposition Lamuka coalition, told Al Jazeera on Monday.

Sunday’s vote, which has been repeatedly postponed since 2016, was marked by long delays with many polling stations not opening and voters not finding their names on the poll register.

The electoral commission (CENI) on Wednesday said at least 20 percent of the polling stations in the capital, Kinshasa, would not open because of a lack of voting machines.

More than 46 million Congolese registered to take part in the election to pick a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the mineral-rich country for 17 years. 

As many as 21 candidates contested the poll. 

Early this month, a blaze destroyed the commission’s main warehouse in Kinshasa. CENI said the fire destroyed 80 percent of the voting machines allocated for the capital, which is home to about 15 percent of the country’s electorate.

“It was deliberately disorganised. The people of the Congo are asking the truth. They are asking for their act (vote) to be reflected in the result. The result should reflect what they did on Sunday,” Fayulu added.

‘Badly organised’

Voting did not take place in three opposition strongholds, where at least 1.2 million people registered to vote.

CENI, earlier this week, said it was delaying voting in the eastern cities of Beni and Butembo in North Kivu until March next year, because of the ongoing Ebola outbreak which has claimed more than 330 lives.

CENI also said voting will take place in March next year in Yumbi in the western Bandundu province because of ethnic violence. More than 100 people have been killed in the area since the start of the month.

Crispin Landa, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera the postponement could lead to unrest.

“I think Sunday’s elections were the worst in terms of organisation and preparation comparatively to all elections this country has held so far, including those held during Joseph Mobutu,” Landa said.

“It’s in the opposition’s stronghold that complications have been observed. It was badly organised and could lead to chaos,” Landa added.





Forty-six million Congolese registered to vote in the poll, which has been beset by complications [Jerome Delay/AP Photo]

Fiston Kamanda, an adviser to Ramazan Shadary, told Al Jazeera the opposition should wait for official results to be announced and accept the outcome. 

“Fayulu does not have a chance to win an election. He doesn’t represent anything. He might win in Kinshasa, but not anywhere else. We are confident we will win. If he is not happy with the results when it is announced, he can go to court,” Kamanda said. 

Provisional results are expected on January 6, while the official results of the presidential polls are due to be announced on January 15.

Voters are also electing representatives for the national and local assemblies.

Meanwhile, the internet was heavily restricted in Kinshasa on Monday shortly after the vote tallying started. Residents in the eastern city of Goma also told Al Jazeera they were experiencing internet restrictions.

Al Jazeera contacted both internet service providers and the government and is awaiting comment.

DRC, a mineral-rich country of 80 million people in central Africa home to more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, has never had a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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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

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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

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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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