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EU election observer commits suicide in African state

EU election observer commits suicide in African state

AFP – A Belgian IT specialist assigned to the European Union mission observing the presidential and parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has committed suicide, AFP reported on Monday.

The unnamed man allegedly threw himself from the 12th floor of a hotel in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, on Friday night, the outlet cited diplomatic sources as saying on Sunday. Authorities in the Central African nation have launched an investigation into the incident.

An EU spokeswoman in Brussels told AFP that the union had been informed of the “tragic incident.”

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family, friends and colleagues. While the investigation is underway in Kinshasa, we cannot comment further,” she added.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry also confirmed the death of the man, who it said had been in the DRC “on a short-term mission.”

Voting ended in the DRC’s general elections on Thursday amid logistical issues and allegations of irregularities in the mineral-rich nation, which has been plagued by a protracted conflict with rebel factions in its eastern region.

The EU announced last month that it was canceling its observation mission for the former Belgian colony due to security concerns, but later deployed a reduced taskforce of eight observers in Kinshasa.

The bloc initially intended a larger mission of 50 observers to be deployed throughout the DRC. The IT expert who allegedly committed suicide in Kinshasa was part of a team assisting the mission of the eight observers, who the EU said would perform a technical analysis of the electoral process and submit a report.

The AFP cited diplomatic sources in Kinshasa as saying there is no doubt the Belgian national committed suicide. The outlet did not provide any justification for its assertion.

Meanwhile, according to preliminary results released by the country’s electoral commission, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who is running for reelection against 18 other candidates in the December 20-21 balloting, is leading with more than 80% of the vote.

Tshisekedi has been in power since the beginning of 2019, and victory in the current election would give him a second five-year term. He has pledged to build on the achievements of his previous term if reelected, while threatening to declare war on neighboring Rwanda if it allegedly continues to arm M23 rebels responsible for deadly attacks in the country’s east.

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