The Congolese Ebola outbreak has become so severe that the country’s electoral commission announced Wednesday that the Jan. 30 election won’t take place in areas heavily affected by Ebola for months because hundreds of people are infected, reports US News and World Report.
The election to choose a successor to longtime President Joseph Kabila will happen on Sunday, unless “there is a war and nobody can go out and vote,” said the commission’s president, Corneille Nangaa, on Monday.
However, the commission said that the election will take place in March in and around Beni and Butembo in North Kivu province, and Yumbi in Mai-Ndombe province, months after the December election and after Jan. 15 when election results are supposed to be announced. After that, an inauguration is supposed to take place three days later.
“This is completely unacceptable,” presidential candidate Martin Fayulu, the leader of an opposition coalition, told The Associated Press. “We campaigned in those territories, life has not stopped.”
Fayulu and others opposing the decision said on Tuesday accused the electoral commission of being “determined to organize chaotic elections.”
The Congo has already delayed the election for two years.
With more than 200 people dead in the last three months and at least 330 confirmed cases, the Democratic Republic of Congo is facing the worst Ebola outbreak in the country’s history.
This outbreak – the second this year – began in the North Kivu province before spreading to Ituri province in the east of the country.
This is the 10th Ebola outbreak in the country since 1976.
According to CNN, in November, 27,000 people had been vaccinated against Ebola in the DRC, but WHO workers often faced resistance against vaccinations. Compounding matters, the outbreak has been exacerbated by violence against health officials and civilians by militant groups battling for control in the affected region in an ongoing war.
Two health workers died in one attack, according to Congo’s Minister of Public Health, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, while 11 civilians and one soldier were killed last month in the city of Beni, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.
“No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing,” Kalenga said in a video statement posted to Twitter.