United Nations appeals for violence-free elections in DR Congo

Opposition Presidential candidate Martin Madidi Fayulu

Congolese opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu poses for a portrait following an interview with the Associated Press in Kinshasa, Congo, Thursday Dec. 27, 2018.

Protests broke out in Beni on Thursday over the delayed vote, with some attacking an Ebola response center and sending 21 patients fleeing.

The latest delay has caused fresh frustration in Beni, where rebel attacks have killed more than 1,500 people in the past four years.

The sanctions consist of a ban to enter the EU and an asset freeze of 14 people, including Shadary, who is also a former interior minister, according to EU Observer.

Worryingly, Mutsuva said they didn't believe Ebola had existed in Beni: "They came with this disease to barricade the elections".

He reminded "all actors that they have a critical role to play in preventing electoral violence, by refraining from any form of provocation and showing maximum restraint in their words and actions", a United Nations statement said.

Sanctions were first placed two years ago after a violent crackdown on street protests and repeated delays to the elections.

The unrest in Beni occurred a day after Congo's electoral commission announced that Sunday's election is delayed until March for Beni and Butembo city because of the outbreak.

His opposition coalition called for a nationwide "ghost town" strike on Friday but urged people to remain calm.

DRC Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu earlier told the European Union it had 48 hours to withdraw its representative in retaliation for sanctions against 14 officials, including Kabila's handpicked candidate for the long-delayed vote.

Beni and the rural areas around it have been dealing with an Ebola outbreak - now the second-deadliest in history - since August, but health authorities had repeatedly said that it would not prevent the vote from going ahead.

Clashes in some locations are enough "to compromise voter's peace of mind", added a statement issued at the end of a one-day summit held in the neighbouring Republic of Congo.

Frustration has mounted across the vast, shakily governed Central African country after repeated election delays and blunders as well as a decision this week to shelve voting in several opposition strongholds.

Fayulu, who was appointed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition as its nominee in the race to replace Joseph Kabila, is among outspoken voices against Kabila's governance.

The disease has killed 356 of the 585 people infected during the nearly six-month outbreak, and one-fifth of the cases have occurred within the past three weeks, according to a weekly update from WHO.

He tweeted: "I caution the [electoral commission] against any attempt to cancel the elections in Beni city, Beni territory and Butembo".

In other areas, the fight against Ebola has continued, and local communities have been generally supportive of the health teams, Tedros said.

With President Joseph Kabila's successor due to be sworn in next month, it appears the votes of more than a million people could be discounted.

Despite the violence, President Kabila said campaigning has been largely peaceful.

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