Congo Halts Campaigning in Capital Before Opposition Rally

(Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo suspended presidential-election campaigning in the capital, Kinshasa, as one of the country’s main opposition candidates prepared to hold a rally.

Congo is scheduled to hold presidential elections on Sunday that could mark the first democratic transfer of power since the country gained independence in 1960. President Joseph Kabila, who’s stepping down after 17 years in office, has anointed Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor in the poll.

Kinshasa Governor Andre Kimbuta, a member of Kabila’s ruling coalition, ordered the halt citing threats to security. Campaigning, which is officially scheduled to end at midnight on Friday, can continue in the media, he said. That will benefit government-backed candidates on state television and radio.

Agence France-Presse reported late Wednesday that the elections may be postponed by seven days after a fire last week in Kinshasa destroyed some electronic voting machines. A formal decision may be announced Thursday, AFP cited an unidentified official from the election commission as saying.

Several thousand supporters of opposition leader Martin Fayulu gathered in Kinshasa on Wednesday for a planned rally to mark his return from touring the country’s provinces. Fayulu, one of two key opposition candidates vying to replace Kabila, has been prevented from returning to the city by police who stopped him at the city’s perimeter, a Fayulu spokesman said.

Hundreds of supporters who went to welcome him were repelled by anti-riot police who fired teargas at the crowd.

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