Opposition alleges foul play as Election Commission postpones the polls in DR Congo

According to reports, the government has been purposely delaying the elections since 2016 and relentlessly attacking the opposition’s electoral campaigns

December 21, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch
The government has unleashed a relentless attack on the campaign of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu

The Election Commision (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has postponed the presidential, legislative and provincial elections in the country from December 23 to December 30. According to some reports, a recent fire outbreak in the capital city of Kinshasa damaged many voting machines and ballots. The CENI needs time to refurbish things to put the electoral process in order.

According to local media reports, the election commision had cited three reasons for the delay, including the deaths of more than 100 people in ethnic violence in the north-west this week, an outbreak of Ebola in the east and a shortfall in the number of ballot papers it had been able to distribute.

The opposition parties in the country had already raised suspicions that this is a government ploy to derail and delay the much awaited election process in the country. The DRC’s outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, refused to leave office at the end of his second term in 2016 and only reluctantly agreed not to stand this time. He named Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor.

According to reports, the government has been desperately trying to distract the elections by straining the election campaign of the major opposition leader Martin Fayulu. Earlier, on December 19, Fayulu put a facebook post alleging that: “After stopping me from landing in #kindu, after attacking my motorcade and killing my supporters in #lubumbashi and #kalemie as well as the hijacking of my plane to #goma. After attacking my motorcade at #masimanimba, the kabilie now prevents me from returning to #kinshasa. I have to hold a meeting. What are they afraid of? I have only my God and my people.”

On Wednesday, December 19, Fayulu’s opposition coalition, Lamuka, stated in a press release that “CENI chief Corneille Naanga is trying to validate a postponement of elections by the international community. For LAMUKA, more than two years after the expiry of the constitutional deadlines, no postponement is justifiable.”

“Indeed, the CENI and the illegitimate government of Mr. Kabila have ample time to prepare a good, credible and peaceful election. To this must be added the fact that they have been refusing for several years now logistical and financial assistance from the international community,” Lamuka added.

Marie-Josée Ifoku, the lone women candidate in the presidential race, responded that the Election Commission must resign because it failed in its mission.

In the aftermath of the new developments, another opposition coalition CACH also called a press meet on Friday to express their opinion.