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Congo elections may be marred by violence

DR Congo: Deadly clashes in South Kivu ahead of elections

NEWS AGENCIES 

At least 18 people have killed in clashes between the Democratic Republic of the Congo‘s army and rebels loyal to a renegade former general in the country’s eastern region, according to military sources.

The latest round of violence comes less than three weeks before crucial elections to replace long-time President Joseph Kabila.

Fighting killed 14 rebels and four soldiers in Fizi, a region of South Kivu, a mineral-rich province which is prone to ethnic tensions, a military spokesman and other sources said.

Violence in the troubled eastern region is just one complication before the December 23 elections in DR Congo, which has not seen a peaceful transfer of power since independence from colonial Belgium in 1960.

Under international pressure, Kabila has agreed to step aside, but critics worry he will try to engineer a win for his handpicked successor, former hardline Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

The eastern clashes pit the military against rebels loyal to a former army general, William Amuri Yakutumba, whose militia is one of the armed groups operating in the region against Kabila.

The militia is allied to rebels of the National Liberation Front based in neighbouring Burundi, according to several regional sources.