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DR Congo beefs up road security ahead of Francophone Games

The 10-day Jeux de la Francophonie has already been pushed back from 2021 to bring in international standard infrastructure.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has beefed up security in the capital Kinshasa amid concerns about the safety of athletes participating in the international “Jeux de la Francophonie,” or Francophone Games, starting this week, the government said.

Games coordinator Isidore Kwanza said on Friday some 4,500 extra police, supported by state security agents, had been deployed ahead of the event.

The athletes will be personally escorted by the police and have surveillance cameras installed in their residences.

The lack of security in the city is the latest setback for the organizers of the 10-day Francophone Games, which were already pushed back two years to 2021 to bring in international standard infrastructure.

Authorities scrambled to complete the track, sports stadium and accommodation in time for the July 28 start date. Some participants expressed concern about security in Kinshasa, where petty crime, robbery and kidnapping for ransom are relatively common.

The killing of an opposition spokesman this month raised doubts about the authorities’ ability to secure the Games. But Kinshasa is generally safer than in the country’s volatile mineral-rich east, where multiple armed groups have operated for decades, displacing millions.

Canada’s Quebec and Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region have reduced athletes.

About 3,000 athletes from more than 40 countries will take part in the Games, which are held every four years to promote the French language.

Sports include athletics, basketball, football, wrestling and cycling.

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