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DR Congo police fire tear gas at banned election protest

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Congo police fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a protest by opposition supporters in the capital Kinshasa calling for a re-run of last week’s chaotic presidential and legislative elections.

The disputed vote threatens to further destabilise Congo, which is already grappling with a security crisis in the east that has hampered development in the world’s top producer of cobalt and other industrial minerals and metals.

Five of President Felix Tshisekedi’s challengers in the race as well as civil society organizations, called on their supporters to join a march on Wednesday against the poll, which they say was fraudulent and should be annulled.

The demonstration against the electoral process had been banned by the authorities, AFP earlier reported.

Interior Minister Peter Kazadi announced on Tuesday that the march would not be permitted. It “aims to undermine the electoral process, the government of the Republic cannot accept this,” he declared.

The opposition maintained its slogan and called on the people of Kinshasa to gather near the People’s Palace, the seat of Parliament, to march to the headquarters of the Electoral Commission (CENI).

Anti-riot police are positioned Wednesday morning in the People’s Palace district, located near the large Martyrs stadium.

Nearly 44 million voters were called to elect their president, their national and provincial deputies and their municipal councilors on December 20. Due to numerous logistical problems, the quadruple voting was officially extended by one day and continued until Christmas in some remote areas.

Partial results of the presidential election place the outgoing head of state, Félix Tshisekedi , well in the lead, with some 79% of the votes. In power since the beginning of 2019, he is seeking a second five-year term.

According to the latest available figures, relating to approximately 6 million votes counted, Moïse Katumbi, former governor of the mining region of Katanga, would come in second position, with 14% of the votes, followed by Martin Fayulu, unsuccessful candidate in the 2018 presidential election. (4%).

The other candidates, who were around twenty, would not reach 1% of the votes. Among them, Dr Denis Mukwege , Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2018 for his action with women victims of war rape, would be in 11th position, with 0.12%.

As early as December 20, opponents had described the elections as « total chaos » and denounced « irregularities » . The Archbishop of Kinshasa considered that these elections had been « a gigantic organized disorder ». Like around fifteen embassies before him, the prelate called for “restraint”.

Tensions are feared when the winner of the presidential election is announced, in a country with a turbulent and often violent political history, with a subsoil immensely rich in minerals but with a predominantly poor population.

“We have taken all measures so that peace reigns ,” assured the Minister of the Interior.

 

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14-year-old boy arrested in parents’ deaths, tried to kill sister, sheriff says

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A 14-year-old boy was in custody Friday after allegedly killing his parents and trying to kill his 11-year-old sister in their Fresno County, California home, authorities said.

Deputies were dispatched to the residence in the community of Miramonte on Wednesday night on a 911 call reporting a break-in and attack, Sheriff John Zanoni said at a news conference Friday.

Deputies found the parents dead and the sister injured. A 7-year-old sibling was uninjured, and was in the care of relatives, Zanoni said.

The teenage boy told deputies someone broke in attacked family members before fleeing in a pickup, but detectives discovered inconsistencies in his story, and he was ultimately taken into custody, the sheriff said.

Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni during the news conference.
Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni at a news conference Friday.Fresno County Sheriff’s Office / via Facebook
“He fabricated the story of the break-in,” Zanoni said.

The teen sustained a few scratches, he said, but there was no indication he had self-inflicted injuries.

The parents were identified as father Lue Yang and mother Se Vang, both 37. The cause and manor of death were still pending, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

The sister had severe injuries and was expected to survive after receiving trauma care, Zanoni said.

Authorities were still cataloging weapons and were not prepared to say exactly what was used in the attacks, the sheriff said, adding that some of the multiple weapons used in the violence were not uncommon in rural areas.

Miramonte is in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 40 miles west of Mount Whitney.

Miramonte sign by a road at night.
Deputies were dispatched to the residence in the community of Miramonte. Fresno County Sheriff’s Office / via Facebook
The motive has not been determined, Zanoni said. Deputies had not made previous visits to the household.

It wasn’t clear if charges had been formally filed or if the suspect has retained counsel in the case. The Fresno County public defender’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The teen was being held in a juvenile facility on allegations of murder and attempted murder, the sheriff said.

“It is extremely tragic,” he said.

 

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Burundi’s President Calls for Stoning of Gay Couples 

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Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye recently launched a virulent tirade against same-sex marriage, denouncing it as an « abominable practice » and advocating for the stoning of gay couples, citing religious reasons.

The President, known for his conservative Christian views, previously called for homosexuals to be « banished » and treated as outcasts. He criticized Western countries opposing LGBTQ+ rights and defiantly rejected aid from those advocating such practices, urging individuals embracing those beliefs to stay abroad.

This strong stance is in line with the conservative Christian values prevalent in the Great Lakes country, where same-sex relations are punishable by imprisonment.

This statement comes in reaction as the global discourse on LGBTQ+ rights has seen some notable developments, such as Pope Francis’ declaration on December 18th regarding the blessing of homosexual couples.

While this marks a symbolic shift in the Catholic Church’s stance, it’s essential to note that the Church maintains a clear distinction between homosexual and heterosexual marriages.

The Vatican’s doctrine of the « one true marriage » underscores its position that while marriage for all is tolerated, it is not yet fully accepted within the Catholic religion.

However, implementing such changes globally is a complex endeavour. Despite the Vatican’s guidance, the ability to enforce a shift in mentality and impose measures across all Catholic communities proves challenging.

Several African churches have already signalled their resistance to these advances. For instance, the bishops of Cameroon explicitly rejected any change, stating, « We formally prohibit all blessings of homosexual couples. » Similarly, Togo has expressed openness to individuals in same-sex relationships but encourages priests to refrain from blessing such couples.

This dynamic reflects the ongoing struggle within the Catholic Church to reconcile differing perspectives on LGBTQ+ issues, illustrating the tension between global doctrinal shifts and the autonomy of individual religious communities, particularly in conservative regions like Africa.

 

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Ivory Coast will deliver 50 million liters of gasoline monthly to Guinea

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Ivory Coast will deliver 50 million liters of gasoline per month to Guinea, following the explosion and fire at the country’s main fuel depot, Ivorian national television announced Wednesday evening.

“Côte d’Ivoire is committed to delivering 50 million liters of gasoline per month to Guinea,” said a journalist from Radiotélévision Ivoirienne (RTI), without specifying the duration of this aid.

“The practical terms of the contract and the security of the convoys will be signed this Thursday,” said another journalist from the channel, specifying that Guinea had a monthly need of 70 million liters of gasoline.

The Guinean Minister of the Economy, Moussa Cissé, met on Wednesday in Abidjan with the Ivorian Minister of Mines, Oil and Energy, Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly.

Saturday, five days after the explosion and fire in Conakry of the country’s main fuel depot which left 24 dead and 454 injured, according to a new report, the Guinean government announced the resumption of gasoline distribution, in rationing it.

Twenty-five liters per vehicle and five liters per motorcycle and tricycle were authorized, with the use of cans prohibited.

The population was deprived of gasoline throughout the territory since the explosion and fire, leading to the paralysis of a large part of the economy.

Demonstrations in several localities last week sometimes turned into clashes between groups of young people demanding the return of gasoline to service stations and the security forces.

Furthermore, the Guinean government announced Wednesday that the fire at the fuel depot was « completely extinguished », in a press release sent to AFP.

In total, more than 11,000 people were directly affected by the fire.

 

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