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Kabila's pick Ramazani Shadary backs voting machines at rally to 'meet' people

Joseph Kabila

At least fifty thousand supporters of President Joseph Kabila gathered Saturday in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, for a meeting during which Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, candidate for the December presidential election, addressed members of his coalition in an election campaign atmosphere, AFP journalists reported.

Supporters arrived on public buses, taxis and public transport taxis, which dropped them off on the streets leading to the Tata Raphael stadium in central Kinshasa.

Ministers and other officials came in official vehicles, some under police escort.

We want the voting machine

Most of those that attended the rally wore T-shirts marked FCC (Front commun pour le Congo) or held banners and flags of the majority political parties.

In the stadium with a capacity of 40,000 seats, a podium mounted in the colours of the DRC flag was installed, while the effigies of President Kabila and his endorsee, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, were placed in large numbers.

In a white shirt, wearing a cap of the same colour, Mr. Ramazani Shadary entered a crowded stadium shortly before 12:00 p. m. while other demonstrators were trapped outside due to lack of space.

The presidential candidate was accompanied by Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala, Interior Minister Henri Mova and his colleague from the government, Modeste Bahati. They were applauded by the crowd.

“This is our candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary,” said the Prime Minister.

“On December 23, 2018, there will be an election, so don’t let anyone talk to you about postponing. We are not yet in the campaign but the raïs (nickname of Kabila) has appointed you a person, it is Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary,” he recalled.

“I am Joseph Kabila’s candidate. Behind him, we will continue the work of rebuilding the country,” he said.

On the main streets of the municipalities surrounding the stadium, vehicles were travelling at high speed, playing music to the glory of President Kabila and Ramazani Shadary. “Whether we sleep, or wake up, we think of Kabila, we think of Shadary.”

The police presence was discreet compared to the day before, during an opposition demonstration that took place without major incidents. These opponents had asked the electoral commission (Céni) to abandon the voting machines during the next elections. South Korean-made, these machines will allow voters to choose candidates and print ballots, according to Céni. The opposition believes that these touch screens will encourage fraud.

“We want the voting machine,” Ramazani Shadary said, before the slogan was taken up by the crowd.

Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for 23 December in the DRC, after having been postponed in 2016 and 2017. The election campaign for the various elections is scheduled from 22 November to 21 December 2018.

The presidential election must appoint the successor to President Kabila, who remained in power for eighteen years and could no longer stand for re-election constitutionally. In August, Mr. Kabila endorsed his former Interior Minister, Ramazani Shadary, as a candidate for the FCC, a coalition set up in June.