Thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes due to be used in the December 23 presidential election have been gutted by fire at a warehouse in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa.
A presidential adviser said 70% of the equipment due to be used for voting in Kinshasa, was destroyed in the fire. The elections body, CENI, however, says it was still doing an assessment of the damage.
CENI shared photos that showed a huge cloud of smoke rising from the premises where the incident happened. Aside voting material, vehicles were also burnt along with other logistics.
“There was a fire that occurred around one o’clock in the morning at the main depot of the Independent National Electoral Commission. That’s when we called the competent authorities who came to inquire about the situation. We do not know what is the real cause of this fire,” an eyewitness told AFP.
DRC’s security minister is reported to have said the damage represents 10% of the voting machines for Kinshasa and that they will be replaced “very quickly”.
With the keenly awaited polls barely ten days away, opposition groups are questioning the incident as being one that is instigated rather than a natural occurrence.
Outgoing Kabila is due to handover to a new president after the election delayed for exactly two years. The ruling coalition is in the race with ex-Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as its candidate.
Other top aspirants include Martin Fayulu, leading the Lamuka coalition of three aspirants, Felix Tshisekedi leading a two-man coalition along with Vital Kamerhe.