Congolese Edmontonians anxiously await DRC election results
'We are concerned that the Congolese government is trying to change the electoral result'
Congolese Edmontonians are voicing their concerns over a government crackdown on electronic communications as they await election results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The government blocked internet connections and instant messaging on Monday, arguing the move was necessary to preserve public order and prevent social media speculation.
But opposition supporters feared suppressed communication was another way to rig Sunday's vote where they say widespread fraud has already taken place. The government denies the allegation.
"We are concerned that the Congolese government is trying to change the electoral result to manipulate the vote," said Edmontonian Victor Moke-Ngala, who can no longer communicate with family members living in the vast, mineral-rich central African country. "We want a change."
The vote will elect a successor to outgoing President Joseph Kabila and is meant to mark the country's first democratic transition of power.
But after 18 years in power, critics say, Kabila is determined to hang on by securing a win for his chosen candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
Pre-election polling suggested Shadary was running behind opposition candidates Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, but both sides have expressed confidence in a victory.
'We are the voice of the voiceless'
Edmontonian Robert Suraki Watum said it is "a duty" for the Congolese diaspora to speak out publicly about the election, since they have the freedom to do so.
African Union observers described the election as "peaceful" but said they "strongly wish" the outcome would reflect the decision of the people.
Edmontonians urged the government of Canada to be cautious before recognizing election results and taking any action if the ruling coalition loses but refuses to give up power.
With files from Simon-Pierre Poulin, Reuters and Associated Press