Looking at the Njanja polling station, where large queues of people were waiting to cast their ballot—some for a second time—I couldn’t help but glance across at a bare patch of grass. Yesterday, a man lay dead there.
The previous day, armed men had burst into the polling station, ordering people not to vote. According to various sources, whose veracity could not be confirmed, they were from a group calling for a referendum on the secession of Katanga; they wanted to the independence that the province had enjoyed in the early days of independence at the beginning of the 1960s.
Seven people had been reportedly killed, and the cast ballots burned. A day later, this was one of several polling stations across the country to open for a second day of voting.
People had been queuing all day, and as the afternoon drew on, tempers were fraying as staff prepared the classrooms-cum-polling stations and awaited the delivery of ballot papers. Burned ballots from the previous day’s attacks still lay on the grass.
As voting opened, a woman sat at a table ready to tick names of a list. Beside her, the wall was charred from the burning ballot papers of the previous day. “I’m scared they’ll attack again” she said, despite a strong army presence outside.