Congo Supreme Court offices to be decentralized after vote protest torching News
Congo Supreme Court offices to be decentralized after vote protest torching

[JURIST] Supreme Court offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo [JURIST news archive] will be decentralized and spread to various parts of the capital city of Kinshasa, or even to other Congolese cities, following fire damage to one-third of the building earlier in the week, according to a statement from DRC Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa [campaign website, in French; Wikipedia profile] Wednesday. The building was set on fire [JURIST report] Tuesday by supporters of another of Congo's four vice-presidents, Jean-Pierre Bemba [campaign website, in French; Wikipedia profile], who is challenging his loss [JURIST report] in the presidential election to incumbent DRC President Joseph Kabila [BBC profile; PPRD party website, in French] amid allegations of voter fraud [JURIST report].

The rioters were demanding to be allowed into the Supreme Court building so that they could witness a hearing on the voter fraud complaint filed by Bemba after preliminary counts determined that he lost to Kabila by a margin of 16 percent. A number of election-related documents were damaged in the fire, including results of the country's constitutional referendum [JURIST report], and the first round results of the presidential election. The challenged second round results that are currently being reviewed by the high court were unharmed. IRIN has more.

5:15 PM ET – A senior Congolese official said Wednesday that in view of the fire the deadline for the Supreme Court's ruling on Bemba's legal challenge would be delayed. Under current law, the high court has seven days to rule on a complaint, but Azarias Ruberwa, one of the DRC's four vice-presidents, did not specify what the new deadline would be. AP has more.