Members of the LUCHA civil society group held protests outside National Electoral Commission (CENI) offices throughout the country, notably in the capital Kinshasa, Bukavu (South Kivu province; east), and in Goma (North Kivu province; east) on Monday, September 3. LUCHA is protesting over the use of voting machines in the upcoming December 23 presidential elections. Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters and briefly arrested at least 27 members of the group in Kinshasa, while in Goma and Bukavu many of them were reportedly injured and several others arrested by the police. Further protests are likely in the coming days and weeks.
LUCHA was formed by students in the city of Goma in 2012 to promote dialogue on social issues. The group claims that the voting machines are not transparent and will be used by President Joseph Kabila and his party to alter the results. Kabila has come out in support of his political ally, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is permanent secretary of the ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD).
Individuals in the DRC, particularly in Kinshasa, should monitor the situation, maintain a high degree of situational awareness, and avoid all rallies and demonstrations due to the risk of violence.
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