Democratic Republic of Congo: Opposition Candidates Express Concerns Over Voting Delays and Irregularities


Presidential candidates are calling for a rerun of the election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, citing concerns of “obviously planned electoral fraud” amidst administrative chaos, delays, and closed polling stations.

Five opposition presidential candidates have jointly demanded a new election, criticizing the decision by the election commission to extend the voting period as unconstitutional. They include Nobel Peace laureate Denis Mukwege and former oil executive Martin Fayulu.

The election day was marred by logistical challenges, with a significant number of polling stations closed and voting machines malfunctioning. Observers from the National Episcopal Conference of Congo and the Church of Christ in Congo reported difficulties accessing polling stations.

Incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi, seeking a second term, is considered the front-runner in the election, which also includes races for national and regional lawmakers and local councillors. However, concerns about the election’s integrity have been raised, given the widespread issues observed during voting.

Despite these challenges, over 44 million Congolese citizens, out of a population of 111 million, are registered to vote in the election, which involves more than 100,000 candidates. Delays in delivering voting materials, issues with voter registration lists, and poor-quality voter ID cards have contributed to the chaotic situation.

Mukwege expressed worries about the election’s integrity, citing reports of missing voting machines, voter registration issues, and interference in the voting process. He warned that the election results might not reflect the will of the people.

The election commission had previously announced that displaced people in the North Kivu province, where there is ongoing conflict, would not be able to vote due to security concerns. Additionally, a polling station in Ituri province was reportedly attacked by displaced people who were informed at the last minute that they could not vote.

Throughout the campaign, Tshisekedi has criticized what he calls “foreign candidates,” insinuating that his opponents have dual loyalties and are not capable of standing up to foreign influences, particularly from Rwanda, which the DRC accuses of supporting rebel groups on its soil. The opposition has raised concerns about the government’s alleged preparation for electoral fraud.

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Piers Potter


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