Delays on election day in DR Congo

By Xinhua
On 20 December 2023 at 02:10

There have been delays and sporadic violence as voters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo go to the polls Wednesday to elect a new president, members of the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies, as well as municipal councilors.

In Kinshasa, several polling stations visited by Xinhua reporters did not open at 6 a.m., as was scheduled, with long queues in front of the stations.

Local officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) at the polling stations said they were still waiting for ballot kits, which are still on their way.

"I have been in this St-Pierre College polling station since 6 a.m., and now it is almost 8:30 a.m., but still no materials to allow us to vote," Guelord Mbidi, a voter in the commune of Kinshasa, told Xinhua.

In Goma, capital of the eastern province of North Kivu, there were also long queues waiting for the opening of some polling stations, while some other stations have already been in operation.

In the southeast province of Haut-Katanga, witnesses and several local officials reported that electoral materials are still being transported by motorcycles, as the poor condition of roads makes it difficult to transport the materials by regular vehicles.

In Bunia, capital of the eastern province of Ituri, several electoral kits were destroyed by war-displaced people who expressed their anger on Wednesday morning for their exclusion in the electoral process.

Several parts in the eastern part of the DRC, still occupied by rebels, are excluded from holding these elections due to a lack of voter registration.

In a televised message broadcast late Tuesday, CENI president Denis Kadima acknowledged the difficulties involved in deploying the electoral materials in several places across the country.

"We are going to hold the elections on the 20th. Of course the country is vast, with major logistical challenges. We are in the process of putting everything in place," Kadima said.

Twenty-six candidates for the presidential elections have been registered by the CENI, including the outgoing President Felix Tshisekedi, who is seeking reelection.

Moise Katumbi, former governor of Katanga province, Denis Mukwege, the winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with rape survivors, as well as Martin Fayulu, who still considers himself the legitimate winner of the presidential election of 2018, are the main challengers facing Tshisekedi.

The electoral law of the DRC stipulates that the candidate who garners the most votes in the first round will become the next president outright, with a five-year term, renewable once only.

According to the official electoral calendar, provisional results are expected on Dec. 31, and the president-elect will be sworn in on Jan. 20 next year.