DR Congo’s powerful Roman Catholic Church on Thursday said it knows who has won a much-delayed presidential vote and urged the electoral commission to publish the “truth”.
The appeal from the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) came hours after the election commission said logistical problems may force it to postpone publication of provisional results from Sunday’s ballot.
“Data in (CENCO’s) possession from the vote counting reports from polling stations designates the selection of one candidate as president,” said spokesman Father Donatien Nshole.
It called on the election panel “to publish the election results in keeping with truth and justice,” he said.
Western powers and DRC’s neighbours hope sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country will see its first peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960.
The United States demanded that “accurate” election results be released, warning of sanctions against anyone who undermined the fledgling democracy.
Washington also called on the DRC authorities to remove restrictions on internet access and media and urged the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) to count votes in a transparent way.
“There are moments in every nation’s history when individuals and political leaders step forward and do the right thing. This is one of those moments for the DRC,” US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
The UN Security Council will on Friday hold a closed-door meeting, requested by France, about the elections, diplomats said. The council is scheduled to hold a public meeting on Tuesday.
The French public-service broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI), which has a huge following in DRC said its correspondent Florence Morice was forced to leave the country on Thursday night, after having her accreditation revoked.
Congolese authorities have blocked RFI’s broadcasts after accusing it of fanning controversy by declaring early results — an allegation it denies.
President Joseph Kabila, 47, should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when his constitutionally-limited two terms expired.
But he invoked a caretaker clause in the constitution to stay on, sparking protests which were ruthlessly crushed, leaving scores dead.
Elections to succeed him were delayed several times before they finally took place, and were further postponed in several areas hit by violence.
Tensions have risen further over the marathon counting process with opposition fears running high that the result will be rigged to favour Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
CENCO says it deployed more than 40,000 observers to monitor Sunday’s vote, the first presidential ballot since 2011.
Monitors noted some “irregularities” in Sunday’s voting, Father Nshole said.
But, he stressed, “these were not able to significantly affect the choice which the Congolese people clearly expressed through the ballot box.”
The election commission CENI has scheduled to unveil the provisional results on Sunday, followed by the definitive results on January 15 and inauguration of the next president three days later.
But on Thursday, CENI chief Corneille Nangaa told AFP that provisional results may be delayed.
“We are working around the clock. We are doing our best to publish the results on January 6. But if we can’t, we can’t,” Mr Nangaa said.
He later told a news conference that election officials had collected about 20 percent of the results needed. Results from all 73,000 voting stations would then be consolidated, he said.
Within hours of clearing the first hurdle of potential violence on polling day, the elections ran into their next challenge — claims of victory and entrenched suspicions about electoral fraud.
Mr Kabila’s champion, Mr Shadary, a hardliner and former interior minister, and Emmanuel Tshisekedi, head of the UDPS, the country’s oldest and largest opposition party, each said they had won.
But the few opinion polls conducted before the vote signalled Martin Fayulu — a little-known legislator and former oil executive — as the clear favourite.
The move to cut internet access and block RFI broadcasts drew a sharp rebuke from Paris on Thursday.
Respect for freedom of the press and expression was “a key element in guaranteeing the transparency and credibility of the ongoing electoral process,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The DRC lived through two wars between 1996 and 2003 that claimed millions of lives through bloodshed, fighting, starvation and disease.
Violence also marred elections in 2006 and 2011.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.