Elections held in DR Congo amid allegations of irregularity, postponement

The Election Commission postponed the polling in the eastern region of the country, which is said to be a stronghold of the opposition groups, citing outbreak of Ebola and violence.

December 31, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch
Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu said that in many places, electoral lists were put up late and voting machines malfunctioned.

Polling took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on December 30 amid widespread chaos and allegations of fraud from the opposition parties. The Election Commission (CENI) postponed the polling in the eastern region of the country, which is said to be a stronghold of the opposition groups, citing outbreak of Ebola and violence. But the opposition claimed that it was a purposeful move by the government to prevent supporters of opposition from taking part in the elections.

There are allegations that the polling started very late at several booths and that there were long queues in booths even after the stipulated time. In many places, voting machines also reportedly malfunctioned. There were also accusations of polling booths being set up in military camps and private houses in several places. Meanwhile, thousands of people could not vote as their names were missing from the electoral roll. Instances of violence were also reported, including manhandling, rioting and presence of private militias around certain polling booths. One police official, a polling agent and two civilians were reportedly killed in the eastern South Kivu province and a couple of polling officers were injured.

According to a CNBC Africa report, the Catholic bishops conference (CENCO) said that the electronic voting machines, criticized by the opposition as vulnerable to fraud, had malfunctioned in at least 544 of 12,300 polling places around the country.

Martin Fayulu, the candidate of a major opposition coalition, Lamuka, complained that electoral lists were posted late, names were misprinted and machines did not work. “All these irregularities will for sure have a negative impact on the process led today by the Election Commision (CENI),” he added.

Another opposition candidate and leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Felix Tshisekedi, said that “there is a big mess and we are asking ourselves if this is not an organized chaos to ensure that tomorrow, the constitutional court cancels everything.”

According to reports, the provisional results will be announced on January 6 and the final results will be out by January 18. Earlier, the CENI had postponed the presidential, legislative and provincial elections in the country from December 23 to December 30. 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 down this time.

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