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Regional body SADC calls for DR Congo election vote recount | News





Democratic Republic of Congo should recount the votes of its contested presidential election that the runner-up says was rigged, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said.

“A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” SADC said in a statement on Sunday.

The 16-member bloc recommended a government of national unity including parties representing Kabila, Fayulu and Tshisekedi that could promote peace.

Members of the regional body includes Angola and South Africa, old allies of President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the central African country for the last 17 years.

“SADC draws the attention of Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya” that created the “necessary stability for durable peace,” the statement said.

The December 30 poll was supposed to mark Congo’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power since the mineral-rich country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

But runner-up Martin Fayulu claims that he in fact won by a landslide and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Kabila to be declared victor. Tshisekedi and Kabila deny this.

Congo’s Catholic Church has said that tallies compiled by its 40,000-strong monitoring team show a different winner to those announced by the electoral commission, without saying who.

The opposition leader has challenged the provisional results in the country’s constitutional court, which is expected to announce its verdict in the coming days.

Here’s a recap of the developments, as political uncertainty grows in the wake of contested election results:

Vote delay

Polls were first scheduled to be held in 2016 but the electoral commission delayed the vote citing lack of resources. The poll body (CENI) also said it needed more time to complete voter registration in the vast country roughly the size of western Europe.

The delay led to deadly street protests leading to the deaths of dozens of opposition supporters. After almost two years of delay, election was announced to be held on December 23, 2018.

Another delay

Two days before polls were scheduled to take place, CENI dropped another bombshell: polls will be delayed by a week.

CENI said it was not prepared to hold the elections following a fire that destroyed voting machines as well as the deadly Ebola outbreak in the country’s east.

No voting in three cities

Four days before polling date, the election commission said voting will not be taking place in the eastern cities of Beni and Butembo due to ongoing ebola outbreak, while election in the western city of Yumbi was postponed because of violence. All three cities were opposition strongholds.

Results delay

On January 6, when the provincial results were to be declared, CENI said it was postponing the announcement saying commission had only about half of the vote tally sheets.

‘Major irregularities’

SYMOCEL, a Congo-based observer mission, said it had witnessed 52 “major” irregularities in the 101 of the 179 vote-counting centres it observed, including people tampering with results.

Disputed results

Hours after results were announced on Thursday, opposition leader Martin Fayulu rejected and appealed to the Constitutional Court to annul the provisional result.

Fayulu filed a fraud complaint on Saturday with Congo’s highest court, which has eight days to rule on the case.

France and Belgium are also challenging the outcome of the election, with France’s foreign minister saying the declared victory of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was “not consistent” with the results and that his rival Martin Fayulu appeared to have won.

The swearing-in of the new president is planned for January 18.

Al Jazeera and news agencies


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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision





One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada





An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care





With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

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