Fighting between the Batende and Banunu ethnic groups has left over 100 people dead in Mai-Ndombe province in recent days as of Wednesday, December 19. Some people reportedly fled across the Congo River to the Republic of the Congo to escape the clashes. The death toll could rise in the coming days, according to local sources. Heightened tensions between the Batende and Banunu groups in the lead-up to the general elections, slated for December 23, may lead to further intercommunal violence.
The DRC is scheduled to hold presidential and legislative elections on December 23, which could mark the first democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960. As a security precaution, Congolese authorities have announced that land borders will be closed for 24 hours on election day. International flights are not affected by the order. An increased security presence will be deployed throughout major urban centers and at polling stations on the day of the vote.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to monitor local developments, avoid all protests and political demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, and adhere to instructions issued by the local authorities as well as their home governments. It is advisable to refrain from discussing sensitive political topics in public.
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