Thursday brought a new twist to the upcoming polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo – a fightback against the election body’s suspension of voting in three regions, a call for nationwide strike and the literal sacking of the European Union envoy by government.
Earlier this week, voting was cancelled for three cities. Beni and Butembo – known opposition strongholds and Yumbi over rising spate of insecurity. The elections body, CENI, said the three cities will vote in March 2019 but that their results would not affect the conduct of the December 30 polls.
As expected, the main opposition Lamuka coalition have flatly rejected the move with its leader, ex-oil tycoon Martin Fayulu, announcing a nationwide shutdown to protest CENI’s decision.
“We are launching a patriotic call for a dead city day on Friday, December 28th, over the entire expanse of the Republic. #Beni, #Butembo and #Yumbi are an integral part of the #RDC which is one and indivisible,” Fayulu wrote in a tweet accompanied by a Lamuka statement.
The Catholic Church and Lucha activists have also protested over recent decisions by the CENI. The Church says it was unacceptable to adjourn elections for a part of the country. Whiles the influential activists group also accused CENI of preparing the grounds for chaos.
Kinshasa orders EU to recall its representative
With barely just days to the elections, Kinshasa has asked the European Union to recall its representative citing targeted sanctions against 14 Congolese officials.
Brussels had sanctioned the 14 officials for their roles in repression of anti-Kabila protests. A government communication signed by Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu gave the EU 48 hours to withdraw its envoy.
Among the affected officials are Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the ruling party’s candidate in the elections – at the time he was serving as Interior Minister, hence his inclusion.
Kinshasa had lobbied hard at a point soliciting the help of the African Union to ensure Shadary was free of the sanctions but the EU Council in early December voted to maintain the sanctions.
The upcoming elections were supposed to take place in late 2016 but were postponed by two whole years with the elections body, CENI, citing the lack of a credible voters roll, funding and insecurity.
Even this coming Sunday’s vote had been postponed from an earlier date of December 23. CENI cited loss of materials at a Kinshasa warehouse inferno for the decision.