On Monday, January 21, it was announced that the inauguration ceremony for president-elect Félix Tshisekedi, originally planned for Tuesday, January 22, will be postponed amid ongoing political tensions in the country. According to a government spokesperson, the ceremony will now likely take place on Thursday, January 24. The announcement comes as presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu continues to dispute a Constitutional Court ruling announced overnight on January 19-20, which rejected Fayulu's appeal for a recount and confirmed Tshisekedi's election win. Fayulu claims he won the election with 60 percent of the vote based on leaked results, and has called for his supporters to stage peaceful demonstrations against a "constitutional coup d'état." On Monday, January 21, police dispersed a gathering by hundreds of Fayulu supporters in central Kinshasa after brief clashes broke out between rival Fayulu and Tshisekedi supporters, during which at least one person was reportedly seriously injured.
An increased security deployment is to be expected in the near-term in urban centers nationwide in anticipation of possible unrest. Police forces in Kinshasa had previously announced they would stage daily and nightly patrols in some neighborhoods of the capital where increased political tensions, including death threats to Tshisekedi supporters, have been reported. Many governments have advised their nationals to postpone any travel to the DRC at least until the end of January.
DRC held long-awaited general elections on December 30, 2018, to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who was ineligible to run for another term. There were numerous allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation and several people were killed in election-related violence. Opposition candidate Tshisekedi was declared winner of the presidential elections with 38.57 percent of the vote, followed by runner-up Fayulu with 34.83 percent. Meanwhile, internet services - blocked since December 31 - have been gradually returning to normal since late January 19.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political topics in public, and adhere to all instructions issued by their home government and local authorities.
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