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DRC poll hub: High-level meeting over deadlock, AU chief doubts results

DRC poll hub: High-level meeting over deadlock, AU chief doubts results

Democratic Republic Of Congo

SADC calls for emergency meeting over DRC poll

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday in Addis Ababa to discuss Democratic Republic of Congo’s disputed presidential election, an adviser to President Joseph Kabila told Reuters.

Kabila’s diplomatic adviser, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, said he would attend Thursday’s meeting. It was not immediately clear who else from Congo would be present.

SADC, which includes key regional allies of Kinshasa like South Africa and Angola, on Sunday called for a recount but South Africa and Zambia backtracked on Monday.

Runner-up Martin Fayulu, who led pre-election polls, filed a fraud complaint with the country’s highest court on Saturday, asking for a recount of official results which gave victory to another opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi.

Hearings into Fayulu’s fraud complaint are due to open at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

January 13: Great Lakes Regional body calls for vote recount

The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL), a 12-member body including Kinshasa allies Angola and Republic of Congo, expressed “great concern” at the controversy.

“We suggest that the competent structures consider counting the votes in order to guarantee the transparency of the results,” it added in a statement.

This becomes the second African bloc to call for a recount of Democratic Republic of Congo’s contested presidential election, after the Southern African Development Community (SADC) voiced the same opinion on Sunday.

International pressure on Kabila has built since the vote, in part because Congo’s influential Catholic Church said tallies by its 40,000-strong monitoring team show a different winner to that announced by the electoral commission.

Approval of the election results from regional partners are critical for the legitimacy of president-elect Tshisekedi.

January 13: SADC calls for vote recount

Democratic Republic of Congo should recount the votes of its contested presidential election that the runner-up says was rigged, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Sunday.

The Dec. 30 poll was supposed to mark Congo’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power in 59 years of restive independence and the beginning of a new era following 18 years of chaotic rule by President Joseph Kabila.

But runner-up Martin Fayulu claims that he in fact won by a landslide and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Kabila to be declared victor. Tshisekedi and Kabila deny this.

Congo’s Catholic Church has said that tallies compiled by its 40,000-strong monitoring team show a different winner to those announced by the electoral commission, without saying who.

Isolated post-election violence across the massive, mineral-rich country of 80 million people has many fearing a return to the kind of civil-war unrest that have killed millions since the 1990s.

“A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” SADC said in a statement.

SADC, which includes old Kabila allies Angola and South Africa, recommended a government of national unity including parties representing Kabila, Fayulu and Tshisekedi that could promote peace.

“SADC draws the attention of Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya” that created the “necessary stability for durable peace,” the statement said.

The chance of this kind of unity in Congo appear slim for now. Fayulu, who is backed by bitter political rivals of Kabila, on Saturday filed a formal election complaint with the Constitutional Court.


January 12: Fayulu files challenge, FCC takes parliamentary majority

Martin Fayulu made good his intention to challenge the provisional outcome of the December 30, 2018 presidential polls. The Lamuka coalition he leads filed papers at the Constitutional Court on Saturday, January 12.

The Constitutional Court in the capital Kinshasa will hear the case within a week and rule on whether to cancel the results or uphold them.

Canceling will come with options of a re-run – full or partial of the presidential polls. The court will also give direction on who leads the country until such a time that the re-run takes place.

If they endorse the result, it means Felix Tshisekedi ,will be sworn-in as president of the country taking over from Kabila.

Meanwhile legislative results from the election shows that the ruling Common Front for Congo (FCC) despite coming third in the presidential race won a majority in parliament.

According to the results of the December 30 elections published on Friday by the independent national electoral commission, the pro-Kabila coalition, the won 288 of the 500 seats in the Congolese national assembly.

The outfit already exceeds the threshold of 250 seats needed for a majority out of a total of 500, according to an AFP count based on results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI).

Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and its Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) affiliate only managed 46. Martin Fayulu, who came second in the presidential race won 94 seats with his Lamuka coalition.

January11: Fayulu to mount legal challenge

The candidate who came second in the DRC polls, Martin Fayulu, has confirmed that he will be going to court to contest the December 10 results by CENI.

CENI declared Felix Tshisekedi winner of the polls but Fayulu has disclosed that the results were manipulated insisting thet he had won the polls by 61%.

Reports indicate that the Lamuka coalition which he leads will have to submit evidence to the court by close of day today and the court will have seven-days to deliver judgement.

January 11, 2019: Pro-Fayulu protests in Bemba stronghold

Violent protests have rocked an opposition stronghold loyal to former vice-president Jean Pierre Bemba. The protesters are said to be students in their thousands.

An RFI journalist close to the developments reports that tires were being burnt in the streets of Mbandaka with police engaging in running running battles with the protesters.

The protests are in favour of candidate Martin Fayulu, Bemba’s preferred candidate who came second in the December 30 polls according to provisional results.

[LIVE] DRC poll aftermath: Result dispute, protests, celebrations January 10, 2019: Catholic Church questions Tshisekedi’s victory

The Catholic Church in DRC, CENCO, has reacted to the declaration of Felix Tshisekedi as president-elect of the country.

The church said results announced by the elections board, CENI, did not match with tallies it had through its observers.

CENCO had last week declared that its records from the vote showed that there was an outright winner from the December 30, 2018 elections. It’s declaration was slammed by CENI and the ruling coalition.

They did not mention who was the winner in their tallies but its widely believed to be Martin Fayulu who leads an opposition coalition, Lamuka. Fayulu has rejected the results and called for observers to publish their figures.

January 10, 2019: Fayulu fights Tshisekedi’s victory

With over 7 million votes representing 38.57% of taotal votes cast, Felix Tshisekedi has been declared president-elect in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.

The son of a former opposition chief was followed by another opposition candidate, Martin Fauly, leader of the Lamuka coalition. Fayulu claimed 6.3 million votes (34.38%).

“Mr Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has been elected President of the Democratic Republic of CONGO!,” elections board, CENI said in a tweet published in French.

Monsieur Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo élu Président de la République Démocratique du CONGO! fatshi13 #ElectionsRDC #Elections2018 #RDC

— Ceni-rdc (cenirdc) January 10, 2019

The ruling coalition’s candidate and former interior minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came in third with over 4.3 million votes representing 23.84% of votes cast.

But as the Tshisekedi camp celebrates, Fayulu has flatly rejected the results declaring it as an electoral coup.

“The results have nothing to do with the truth of the ballot box,” Fayulu told French broadcaster RFI in an interview. He called on observers to publish the real results of the December 30 polls.

Follow our ‘Africa Elections’ page for more > Les trois candidats en lice à l’élection présidentielle ont obtenu:

1. Monsieur Félix Antoine TSHISEKEDI TSHILOMBO: 7.051.013 soit 38,57%.
2. Monsieur Martin FAYULU MADIDI: 6.366.732 soit 34,83%
3. Monsieur Emmanuel SHADARY: 4.357.359 soit 23,84%
Taux de participation: 47,56%

— Ceni-rdc (@cenirdc) January 10, 2019

January 9, 2019: CENI ready to release results amid high security

The DRC’s election board, CENI, is set to release long awaited presidential poll results today at its headquarters in the capital, Kinshasa.

Security has been ramped up at the premises and across the capital. CENI is effectively supposed to announce the next president of the country.

The delay in release of results was explained by CENI as being a result of slow transmission of tally sheets from across the vast southern African country.

#BREAKING: DR Congo election panel signals that results will be announced later today. Banner in election commission’s press room says: “Publication of provisional results from presidential elections, Wednesday January 9,” AFP

— AFP Africa (AFPAfrica) January 9, 2019

January 8, 2019: Fayulu spits fire over results delay

Opposition candidate and leader of the Lamuka Coalition in DR Congo, Martin Fayulu, has cautioned the elections body, CENI, to desist from tampering with results of the Decemebr 30, 2018 polls and to immediately release results it has been withholding.

Fayulu was addressing a press conference on Tuesday January 8 during which he claimed the candidate of the ruling coalition had declared himself winner but CENI remained silent over that declaration.

“…we have seen that CENI has delayed the proclamation of the results. We have observed that the candidate of the outgoing president, has declared himself as the winner but CENI has said nothing.

“We can see that the results of the elections, mainly the presidential were published in each polling station after thye vote. We also have observed that CENI knows the results and after seeing the results CENI has deliberately postponed the date of the proclamation,” Fayulu said.

Results were expected on January 6 but CENI announced an indefinite postponement claiming that it had only gathered a little over half of results.

“We consider the attitude of CENI, that behaviour, as non acceptable at all, considering that; we are saying to CENI that they cannot change the result of the poll.

“The cannot change what the Congolese have decided and we urge CENI to immediately publish the results,” he stressed.

January 8, 2019: Kabila-opposition meeting: claims and denials

Representatives of a leading Congolese presidential candidate, Felix Tshisekedi, have met with outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s camp to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, Tshisekedi’s campaign said on Tuesday.

Kabila’s camp, however, denied that any such meetings had occurred since the Dec. 30 election, for which provisional results are expected to be announced later this week.

The election is meant to bring about Congo’s first democratic transition in 59 years of independence, but tensions are rising as some in the opposition accuse the government of trying to rig the vote.

At a news conference, the secretary-general of Tshisekedi’s political party, the UDPS, said that contacts between the two camps were conducive to national reconciliation and that the UDPS “is opposed to any policy of score-settling”.

“The two individuals (Kabila and Tshisekedi) have an interest in meeting to prepare for the peaceful and civilised transfer of power,” Jean-Marc Kabund said.

Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Vidiye Tshimanga, later said Kabila and Tshisekedi had not met personally since the election but that their representatives had convened several times.

Kabila is due to step down later this month after 18 years in power. His refusal to go when his mandate officially expired in 2016 sparked protests in which security forces killed dozens of people.

January 7, 2019: Pope weighs in, EU staff leaving

Pope Francis has commented on the DRC’s political situation calling on all stakeholders to do all it takes to ensure that there is peace at the end of the process.

“I am with particular attention following the evolution of the situation in the DRC, expressing the wish that the country can regain the long overdue reconciliation,” his statement issued on Monday read in part.

He asked for stakeholders to respect the electoral process so as to end a persistent state of insecurity that have plagued the country gravely affecting children especially.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that non-essential staff of the European Union, EU, have left the country whiles those scheduled to return have also delayed given the current tensed situation.

#RDC #Elections : du personnel non-essentiel de la délégation de l’UE + familles quittent le pays, d’autres retardent leur retour – source UE

— Sonia Rolley (@soniarolley) January 8, 2019

Kinshasa in late 2018 sacked the EU representative as a retaliatory measure for sanctions slapped on 14 Congolese officials for human rights abuses.

Among the sanctioned is Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister and candidate of the ruling coalition.

Congolese continue to await the release of results from the elections body, CENI. As at December 6, CENI said it had compiled 53% of results. There is not concrete date for release of preliminary results as yet.

January 7, 2019: Belgium wants DRC results announced

Belgian Foreign Minister has called on authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to publish results of the December 30 presidential elections, AFP news agency reports.

Didier Reynders is quoted by AFP as telling the RTBF broadcaster that it was absolutely of the essence that the true will of the Congolese voters is declared.

“The important thing today is to publish the results of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo even if they do not please the powers that be.”

Announcement of preliminary results were slated for January 6 but were delayed because the elections body, CENI, had collated just 53% of the results.

The UN’s security council is due to meet on Friday for a special session over the situation in the DRC. Government has defended a communication blackout that has made reporting results almost impossible.

The Catholic Church has declared that a single candidate won the vote outright and called for results to be released. That posture earned it flak from the ruling FCC coalition and CENI.

January 6, 2019: CENI says over half of results ready

Over half of results from the DRC’s presidential results held on December 30, 2018; are available, elections chief Corneille Nangaa said on Sunday.

The latest update on the results was disclosed after the elections outfit, CENI, held a meeting over the compilation of votes.

He said the tally percentage of January 3 which stood at 20% had more than doubled to 53% but did not give a specific date on which results could be released.

#RDC #Elections : report sine die de la proclamation des résultats provisoires cenirdc. La ceni dit ce dimanche avoir compilé 53% des plis #RDCVote pic.twitter.com/XGq9mSXY5e

— Sonia Rolley (soniarolley) January 6, 2019

January 6, 2019: CENI confirms no results till further notice

Elections boss, Corneille Nangaa has officially stated that preliminary results from the December 30 elections will be delayed, the AP news agency reported today, January 6, 2019.

Today had been scheduled for the release of initial results but CENI had earlier last week warned that the process could delay because of the slow transmission of tally sheets.

The Catholic Church said almost 24-hours later that its independent tabulation showed that there was an outright winner of the polls. That position earned it flak from the ruling FCC coalition.

Internet services have been shutdown in a move justified by government as necessary to maintain peace and security as it will curtail the incidence of spreading fake results.

Tensions are likely to move a notch higher as Congolese await the release of results. Barely a day after the vote the ruling coalition and two main opposition camps claimed victory without giving any figures.

The Church, western governments, the European and African Union have all asked CENI to ensure results announced are in tune with the wishes of the people.

The United States has meanwhile deployed soldiers to Gabon, its president told lawmakers on Friday.

The 80-man contingent will fly into the DRC to protect US citizens and its installations in the country in the event of any violence after results are announced. Below is Trump’s letter communicating the measure.

DRC TJanuary 4, 2019: US says it deployed troops in Gabon to secure DRC election

President Donald Trump said on Friday that U.S. military personnel had deployed to Gabon in response to possible violent demonstrations in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a presidential election there.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump said the first of about 80 military personnel arrived in Gabon on Wednesday in case they are needed to protect U.S. citizens and diplomatic facilities in Congo’s capital Kinshasa.

He said they “will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed.”

Trump said additional forces may deploy to Gabon “if necessary.”

January 4, 2019: Ruling FCC slams church over results claim

The ruling coalition, the Common Front for Congo, FCC, on Friday blasted the Roman Catholic Church, CENCO, leadership over claims it knew an outright winner of the December 30 presidential poll.

FCC spokesman, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, at a press conference in the capital Kinshasa said the church by their pronouncements was sowing seeds of chaos.

“The Common Front for the Congo firmly deplores, denounces and condemns the partisan, irresponsible and anarchic attitude of the CENCO.

“… and Mr Abbot Nshole Donatien in particular who, having deployed less than a quarter of observers to the totality of the planned polling stations, consisting of 40,000 short term observers and 1,026 long term observers, allows himself to proclaim, totally illegally, trends that culminate in the choice of a well identified candidate for the presidential vote.”

CENCO said on Thursday that per figures available to them, there was a clear winner from the vote and tasked the elections body, CENI, to announce the true will of the people.

CENI via its chairman Corneille Nangaa had earlier this week said it was unable to release preliminary results on January 6, 2019 due to slow transmission of tally sheets.

January 4, 2019: EU statement on polls

With the holding of elections on December 30, the Democratic Republic of Congo is at a historic moment towards a democratic transition. International and local observers have spoken.

The EU joins calls from, among others, the African Union Election Observation Mission and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, to ensure that the results of the proclamation are in line with the vote of the Congolese people.

All political actors in the Democratic Republic of Congo have the responsibility to contribute to the success of this transition in a spirit of reconciliation and peace.

The EU, for its part, remains ready to support this process in close consultation with its partners, particularly UN and African partners.

Read more: DRC sacks EU envoy over sanctions on officials

Follow our ‘Africa Elections page for more January 3, 2019: Catholic Church says it knows winner of polls

The influential Roman Catholic Church in the DRC says there is an outright winner of the December 30 presidential polls. Its comments comes at a time the elections body, CENI, says preliminary results will be delayed beyond Sunday, January 6, 2018.

The body of bishops, CENCO, did not mention the candidate who had won per its computation of results. Neither did it disclose the data or source of information it was depending on.

Read FULL story: CENCO tells CENI to declare outright winner > Preliminary results will delay: DRC elections body says https://t.co/IS5YZrZjQZ

— africanews (@africanews) January 2, 2019

Follow our ‘Africa Elections page for more January 2, 2019: Internet blackout persists, AU meets main aspirants

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government cut internet connections and SMS services across the country for a second straight day on Tuesday as the country nervously awaited results from the weekend’s chaotic presidential election.

Both the opposition and ruling coalition said on Monday they were on track to win after a turbulent election day on Sunday in which many Congolese were unable to vote due to an Ebola outbreak, conflict and logistical problems.

Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi, a senior adviser to President Joseph Kabila, said internet and SMS services were cut to preserve public order after “fictitious results” began circulating on social media.

“That could lead us straight toward chaos,” Kikaya told Reuters, adding the connections would remain cut until the publication of complete results on Jan. 6.

As at Tuesday evening, the African Union, AU, delegation in the country called a meeting with the main presidential aspirants and the elections commission chief at a hotel in the capital, Kinshasa.

A journalist with the June Afrique newspaper posted photos of Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu – both leading opposition coalitions arriving at the premises of Hotel Kempinski.

The elections boss, Corneille Nangaa left the meeting without any comments to the media. It is reported that the ruling party’s candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary was also invited but no reports of his participation were made.

It is not known what the agenda of the meeting was but it is most likely connected with conduct of players as they await results from the December 30, 2018 vote.

#DRC: Opposition leaders Martin Fayulu & Felix Tshisekedi at meeting in Kinshasa hotel organised by AU, Ramazani Shadary also been invited. #DRCongoElections2018 #Congo https://t.co/ci3TiR12Yq

— Daniel Finnan (@Daniel_Finnan) January 2, 2019

The signal to Radio France Internationale (RFI), one of the most popular news sources in Congo, was also down, and the government withdrew the accreditation of RFI’s main correspondent in the country late on Monday for having aired unofficial results from the opposition.

The various moves reflected high tensions in Congo, where the long-delayed election was meant to choose a successor to Kabila, who is due to step down next month after 18 years in power – and two years after the official end of his mandate.

The authorities have also confirmed cutting the broadcast signal of a local channel, Canal Congo TV. The channel is known to be close to former veep Jean Pierre-Bemba who was barred from contesting in the polls.

#DRCongoElections2018 #DRCongo authorities say cut signal of local Canal Congo tv after curbing France’s RFI radio amid election count tensions

— AFP Africa (@AFPAfrica) January 2, 2019


Internet blackout as Congolese await initial results

Reports indicate that there is a total internet blackout in the DRC capital Kinshasa. Text message service have also been affected to an extent.

But a member of the electoral body, CENI, confirms to French broadcaster, RFI, that there is no cause for alarm because they have their own means of communication.

In a statement issued on Monday, a group of western envoys tasked government to refrain from blocking means of communication and also called for observers to have access to result compilation centers.

“We request that the government refrains from blocking means of communication, in particular the internet and the media,” the statement read in part.

#RDC #DRC CENCO__RDC symocel UKinDRC CanadaRDC SwedeninDRCongo rschuddeboom USEmbKinshasa USAmbDRC UEenRDC pic.twitter.com/PZZZRQ0Ryg

— John Murton (JohnMurton) December 31, 2018

Almost twenty-four hours after the close of polls, counting continues across the country with very little by way of initial results. CENI had slated January 5 as the date first provisional results will be released.

Already the main competitors in the race are all claiming victory citing unofficial tabulation. Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, is facing two coalition candidates – Felix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu of CACH and Lamuka respectively.

We were quite dismayed by the undiplomatic, unprofessional, and unjustified public manner in which EU Ambassador BartOuvry was expelled from the #DRC. We urge DRC to remain focused on its 1st peaceful transfer of power.

— Tibor Nagy (AsstSecStateAF) December 31, 2018

Kabila hails Congolese democratic maturity

The presidency issued a statement from outgoing Joseph Kabila hailing the conduct of Congolese people in the exercise of the civic responsibility.

“At the time when the polls closed on the entire national territory, I wish to pay tribute to the Congolese people for having, in peace and dignity, fulfilled their civic duty.

“By this significant gesture, the Congolese have demonstrated to their own eyes first and to the whole world, their commitment to democracy exercised in the respect of sovereignty,” the statement issued in French read.

#RDC #Elections2018
Le Président de la République S.E. Joseph #Kabila Kabange rend un hommage appuyé au peuple congolais pour voir accompli son devoir civique dans la paix et la dignité, ce 30 décembre 2018. pic.twitter.com/smQREIGOK1

— Présidence RDC ?? (@Presidence_RDC) December 31, 2018

Meanwhile, counting is underway in the December 30 vote with the three main camps claiming victory.

Read More: Ramazani, Fayulu, Tshisekedi camps all claiming victory Kabila and the ruling coalition’s candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, both cast their ballots in the capital Kinshasa. Kabila was accompanied by this wife and kids as he cast his ballot.

Le Président Joseph #Kabila a rempli son devoir civique, en compagnie des siens, ce dimanche 30 décembre 2018 à Kinshasa. pic.twitter.com/tMiljzmywD

— Présidence RDC ?? (@Presidence_RDC) December 30, 2018

SADC meets three major aspirants, CENI

With less than 48 hours before the elections, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2018 General Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, met with three top presidential aspirants and the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

  • The meeting took place on 28th December, 2018. The day that campaigning officially ended.
  • Attendees included: Martin Fayulu for the Lamuka coalition.
  • Vital Kamerhe, for the Tshisekedi-Kamerhe coalition.
  • Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, candidate for the ruling FCC coalition.
  • Elections chief Corneille Nangaa represented CENI.
  • The main thrust of the meeting was on the state of preparedness for the polls.
  • The SEOM is led by Joseph Malanji, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Zambia.

In their remarks, the presidential candidates and representatives commended SADC for bringing together CENI and presidential candidates to engage on outstanding electoral matters. They all highlighted the need to safeguard the peace throughout the remaining period of the electoral process and put the interest of Congolese people above everything.

The President of CENI, Mr Nangaa assured the candidates and the SEOM leadership that the elections will be held as scheduled without further delays. Mr Nangaa expressed CENI’s commitment to engage with the political and electoral stakeholders in the final days leading to the elections to ensure that any outstanding issues are addressed in order to have credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.

In a bid to ensure the transparency of the vote, Mr Nangaa said, all results from the manual count of ballot papers will be displayed at each polling station and that CENI invited all political party witnesses to accompany the envelopes containing ballot papers to the Local Centre for Results Compilation (CRCL).

All set for for December 30 vote – CENI

The elections body in the DRC, CENI, have confirmed that the December 30 general elections will take place as last announced. The body said it was ready to conduct the long awaited poll.

The initial date of December 23 was pushed forward by a week during which period CENI announced a “no vote” for three cities considered opposition strongholds – Beni, Butembo and Yumbi.

The first two cities were excluded on grounds of public health decision given that they are currently habouring Ebola victims. Yumbi was affected largely because of insecurity.

Jour J-1 #ElectionsRDC #Elections2018 #CeniRDC #Capverslesélections pic.twitter.com/O57z5V2OUY

— Ceni-rdc (@cenirdc) December 29, 2018

During the postponement, government also expelled the European Union, EU, representative in the country citing it as retaliation for sanctions on 14 officials.

Protests rocked the cities affected by the poll exclusion leading to clashes between the protesters and security forces who fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse them according to reports.

Read more: Martin Fayulu to win December 30: Survey

Demonstrators barricade a road during protests over their exclusion from the presidential election in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo December 28, 2018.

Kinshasa ‘sacks’ EU rep, Fayulu calls protest

With barely just days to the December 30 presidential elections, Kinshasa has asked the European Union to recall its representative citing targeted sanctions against 14 Congolese officials.

A government communication signed by Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu gave the EU 48 hours to withdraw its envoy. Brussels had sanctioned the 14 officials in relation to repression of anti-Kabila protests.

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.

Earlier this week, voting was also cancelled for three cities. Beni and Butembo – known opposition strongholds and Yumbi over rising spate of insecurity.

“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.

Nous lançons un appel patriotique pour une journée ville morte le vendredi 28 décembre, sur toute l‘étendue de la République. #Beni, #Butembo et #Yumbi font partie intégrante de la #RDC qui est une et indivisible. pic.twitter.com/XLiWuc3Pnx

— Martin Fayulu (@MartinFayulu) December 27, 2018

Protests in Beni over delayed vote

Protests rocked Beni following the decision of the electoral commission to delay elections in that city, along with Butembo and Yumbi.

Soldiers and police had to fire in the air on Thursday to disperse demonstrators who barricaded roads and burned tires to protest against the decision to exclude them from the presidential election on Sunday.

“There was a group of demonstrators who wanted to enter the CENI office…to demand the withdrawal of the decision,” said Giscard Yere, a Beni resident. “But the police officers and soldiers who were there fired to disperse the demonstrators.”

Dozens of protesters waved Congolese flags as they marched down Beni’s main boulevard. Most shops in the city of several hundred thousand people remained closed, residents said.

“They went to the mayor’s office and then the CENI office. There is teargas and gunfire,” said Teddy Kataliko, a local civil society leader.

Local politicians and leading opposition candidates denounced CENI’s decision as an effort to swing the vote in favour of his preferred candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Beni, Butembo, Yuni to vote in March

Congo’s electoral commission said on Wednesday that it was delaying Sunday’s presidential and legislative elections in three cities until next March; Beni and Butembo in the east, which have been dealing with an Ebola outbreak since August, and Yumbi in the west, where more than 100 people were killed in ethnic violence last week.

The elections will go ahead elsewhere in the vast central African nation on Sunday as planned, the commission said in its statement. Final results for the presidential election will be announced on Jan. 15 and the new president sworn in on Jan. 18.

Beni and Butembo are known as bastions of opposition to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, who is supporting his former interior minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, in the race.

Leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu had warned the CENI against any move to shelve voting in Beni and Butembo in a tweet earlier on Wednesday.

“The pretext of Ebola is fallacious because there has been campaigning in these areas. It’s yet another strategy to hijack the truth of the polls,” he tweeted.

CENI boss defends electronic transmission of results

Cornelle Nangaa, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Independent Electoral Commission, CENI, has reiterated the body’s defense for electronic voting machines despite resistance from opposition parties.

In an interview with French channel TV5Monde’s Journal Afrique, Nangaa said: “The (electronic) transmission will be there, but the result that will be announced is the result that comes from the ballots.

“Even without the machine vote, results were transmitted in 2006 and in 2011 by the voice of local population centers. This is the same procedure that continues,” he added.

Opposition parties, the Catholic Church, activists and the United States cautioned against the use of the machines which they said could lead to a rigged process. The ruling party and government have insisted it is the best way to secure the process.

The December 23 poll date was postponed by a week to December 30 due to an inferno that ravaged a warehouse with electoral equipments meant for the capital Kinshasa.

Nangaa dismissed claims that the postponement was deliberate, quizzing that what did CENI stand to gain in a space of seven days. He posited that the postponement was on legally sound grounds.

Below are his remarks on the machine and postponement in French.

?? #ElectionsRDC : Le président de la #CENI, Corneille Nangaa, reconnaît à demi-mots la transmission électronique des résultats du scrutin : “la transmission sera là, mais le résultat qui sera annoncé, c’est le résultat qui vient des bulletins de vote.” pic.twitter.com/ylafp2Ols2

— Le journal Afrique (@JTAtv5monde) December 24, 2018

‘Do not provoke trouble’

Opposition parties in Democratic Republic of Congo has warned against any further delays to Sunday’s scheduled presidential vote, saying election officials risk provoking trouble.

CENI announced the election, which has been delayed several times since 2016, would now take place on Dec. 30 due to a fire last week that destroyed voting materials.

UDPS secretary-general Jean-Marc Kabund told supporters that any further delays would not be accepted, and the new election date of Dec. 30 was “a red line”.

“If there is a delay of the election after the 30th, you don’t need to wait for our instructions,” Kabund said.

Felix Tshisekedi, a leading opposition candidate, had earlier urged his supporters to stay calm despite the electoral board’s (CENI) decision last Thursday to delay the vote by a week.

In remarks to the media and hundreds of chanting supporters, Tshisekedi accused the CENI, which the opposition says follows orders from the government, of trying to provoke his followers to protest in order to later accuse them of causing unrest.

“We are aware of this strategy. That’s why I ask you to remain calm and respect the position that we are announcing,” Tshisekedi said at the headquarters of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party.

The CENI has repeatedly defended itself against charges of bias and says it acts independently.

The poll is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is due to step down after 18 years in what would be Congo’s first democratic transition.

Regional blocs, SADC & ICGLR to meet in Brazzaville over upcoming vote

Two regional blocs in the southern and central African region have scheduled a meeting around the Democratic Republic of Congo’s upcoming elections.

Leadership of the Southern Africa Development Commission, SADC, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, ICGLR are set to meet on Wednesday in Congo Brazzaville.

The December 26 meeting is expected discuss the situation in the DRC as part of collective and joint efforts aimed at promoting peaceful elections and stability in the DRC.

Namibian president and SADC head, Hage Geingob is set to attend the meeting as well as host, Congo Brazzaville’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and president of the ICGLR.

The two bodies have continually stressed the need for the DRC to conduct a standard process that will lead to peaceful power transfer. President Geingob “reminded that the DRC was vital for development in the sub-region, and that problems don’t have borders, and challenges in one country will affect neighbouring countries.”

The elections body, CENI, announced a postponement of the December 23 polls extending the date by a week. the new date is December 30, 2018. The opposition were slit on CENI’s move.

The main reason cited by the body was a blaze that destroyed majority of election materials at a warehouse in the capital, Kinshasa. Tensions have been high in the country during the campaigns as security forces routinely clashed with especially opposition supporters.

UN hopes for favorable conditions

The United Nations has welcomed the delay of Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election, with the hope that it will allow Congolese “to express themselves freely” during the ballot.

Presidential, legislative and provincial elections had been scheduled for Sunday in the vast, volatile African country, defusing a two-year crisis over the future of President Joseph Kabila.

But on Thursday the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) ordered the postponement, saying a warehouse fire had destroyed voting materials.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their hope that this delay will permit the creation of favorable conditions for the Congolese people to express themselves freely” on December 30, the 15-member Council said in a statement.

MONUSCO ready to help

In its statement, the Security Council reiterated the readiness of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, “to provide support if requested.”

Kinshasa has several times said it wants to organize the elections without financial aid or logistical support from the European Union or the UN.

The UN also “called on all parties to engage peacefully and constructively in the electoral process,” to ensure “a transfer of power in accordance with the Congolese Constitution and the 31 December 2016 Agreement.”

Coalitions divided over poll delay

Barely twenty-four hours after the elections body, CENI, announced a delay of the December 23 polls, main opposition candidates have reacted differently to the development.

Martin Fayulu, leader of the Lamuka coalition, said he disagreed with CENI’s position. “As far as I know, the president of the CENI said that come rain or shine there will be elections on December 23, 2018.

“So, I think we must expect these elections and we cannot accept that Mr. Naanga will change his position today,” Martin Fayulu said.

On the flip side, Felix Tshisekedi, leader of a two-man coalition called for calm on the part of his supporters and accepted the poll delay. He said his team will continue to campaign till next Friday ahead of the December 30 new date.

CENI cited the loss of electoral material to a blaze at a warehouse in the capital Kinshasa as the main reason for the delay. The delay has led to security forces breaking up protests in parts of the country.

DRC Coalitions: The race to Kinshasa via Geneva and Nairobi Follow our ‘Africa Elections page for more

CENI confirms poll delay

The electoral commision in Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday confirmed that it was postponing the presidential election scheduled for Sunday, to December 30, citing delays in deploying voting materials.

After a meeting with candidates in the capital, the electoral commission (CENI) said it had not been able to provide sufficient ballot papers for Kinshasa after a warehouse blaze last week destroyed much of the capital’s election material.

“We cannot organise general elections without the province of Kinshasa, and without the Kinois voters – who represent 10 percent of the electoral body,” CENI president Corneille Nangaa told journalists.

“The presidential, legislative and provincial ballots will take place on Dec. 30 2018.”

The decision may stoke already high tensions after several government crackdowns on opposition rallies.

After the announcement, a crowd outside CENI headquarters started shouting in protest and were pushed back by police.

CENI ‘technically unable’ to conduct election

One of the candidates who attended the meeting of presidential candidates with Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission (CENI) on Thursday, says the president of the body told them CENI is not able to organize the vote on time.

Theodore Ngoy said in a text message to Reuters news agency, that CENI president Corneille Nangaa announced the commission was “technically unable” to hold the election on Sunday.

Ngoy added that the board president Corneille Nangaa cited a fire last week that destroyed ballot papers, an ongoing Ebola outbreak and ethnic violence as reasons for delaying the vote.

Earlier, another candidate Martin Fayulu told Reuters it would be unacceptable for the election to be pushed back.

“The CENI president said there will be an election rain or shine on the 23rd of December,” Fayulu said. “We cannot accept a change of Mr. Nangaa’s position today.”

Fayulu also criticised Wednesday’s decision by the governor of the capital city, Kinshasa, to suspend campaigns.

That decision was “manifestly illegal, we can’t respect it,” said Fayulu.

Campaigning had been due to end at midnight on Friday in what has boiled down to a race between Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, and two main challengers, Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi.

Electoral commission summons candidates

Reports about the possible delay of Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election were further fuelled on Thursday after the electoral commission (CENI) summoned the candidates in Sunday’s presidential election to a meeting at the parliament building.

Marie-France Idikayi, a CENI spokeswoman, invited the candidates to an 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) meeting. Her message, sent on Wednesday, was seen by Reuters.

Idikayi denied media reports on Wednesday that CENI was considering postponing the election by a few days due to delays deploying voting materials to polling stations.

Congo election body mulls poll postponement

DRC’s long awaited polls has been delayed by two whole years but there exists a possibility to it been postponed the elections body, CENI has said.

CENI spokesperson, Pierre Kalamba told the BBC that the measure was possible if election materials are not ready to be deployed. According to him, a delay will serve a better purpose than to rush the process.

Materials expected to be used in the capital, Kinshasa, has been massively hit after a fire at a warehouse destroyed an estimated two-thirds. CENI had previously said it will replace all the materials in time for the vote.

Campaigning is expected to end on December 21, two clear days ahead of the December 23 vote. Already, the governor of Kinshasa has banned campaign activities in the capital citing security considerations.

Campaigning has been chaotic in parts of the country with opposition supporters clashing with law enforcement officers. Main opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu has also reported campaign trail muzzling by the government.

Photos of DRC political leaders from 1960 – 2018: Lumumba, Mobutu, the Kabilas Congo election campaigning stopped in Kinshasa

Election campaigning in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been suspended for ahead of Sunday’s presidential vote for security reasons.

The city’s governor, Andre Kimbuta, said authorities have intelligence that radical elements in the camps of the main candidates planned to cause chaos during the campaigns.

“The information in our possession attests that in all the political camps of the main presidential candidates, extremists have prepared and are preparing for a street confrontation in the city of Kinshasa during election campaign activities,” Kimbuta said in a statement on Wednesday.

While Kitumba isa member of president Joseph Kabila’s ruling party, Kinshasa is an opposition stronghold.

The long-delayed election is meant to choose a successor for President Joseph Kabila, due to step down after 18 years in power, has been marred by deadly clashes between the police and opposition supporters during the campaigns.

READ MORE: UN worried about DRC polls, gov’t pledges to improve securityKimbuta added that the only way presidential candidates could campaign in Kinshasa would be through the media, where Shadary has a clear advantage due to a sizeable war chest and state or ruling party control of many media outlets.

Protesters disrupt Shadary rally, raid Kabila party office

Violence continues to disrupt the campaign process in the Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, as at least one person died as residents of Tshikapa protested against a planned rally by Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

The unrest in Tshikapa, a city in the restive central Kasai region, also saw the presidential party’s headquarters being ransacked, according to witnesses.

Details of how the victim died in Tshikapa were still emerging, but one local NGO said soldiers had opened fire to disperse protesting crowds in the city and shot a market woman in the head.

“The soldiers, who were supporting the police, opened fire to disperse the demonstrators. A woman who was selling embers at the Sokajik market was hit in the head,” said the head of a Congolese NGO which was on site.

The violence comes after at least one other person was killed and more than 80 injured in weekend clashes in the city, the latest unrest in the tense build-up to the December 23 ballot.

READ MORE: UN worried about DRC polls, gov’t pledges to improve securityThe rally by Shadary, the “pro-Kabila” candidate, was cancelled after the violence.

“The candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary will reschedule the visit to Tshikapa tomorrow or the day after tomorrow after assessing the security situation,” one of his relatives told AFP.

Images of the raided presidential offices were widely shared on social media.

Video posts also showed hundreds of young people, some armed with sticks, marching and chanting on Tuesday against the arrival of Ramazani Shadary.

A number of people have been killed in pre-election violence since the beginning of campaigning on November 22.

Western governments are closely watching the election violence and vote outcome in the vast African state, which has never known a peaceful transfer of power since independence from colonial Belgium in 1960.

READ MORE: Peripheral staff of US govt ordered to leave DRC ahead of pollsPresidential debate?

Martin Fayulu, leader of the Lamuka coalition in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, has called for a national debate between contestants in the December 23 elections.

His call comes four days to the end of campaigning, December 21, and under a week to the opening of voting centers. According to Fayulu, the occasion will help candidates share their ideas with voters.

He made the call via a Twitter post on Monday. “I propose a live broadcast debate on national television and Radio + private media between presidential candidates.

“This will be an opportunity to demonstrate that (for) on the ground ideas and their implementation, our coalition brings concrete proposals,” his tweet read.

Fayulu’s challenge comes at a time when candidates are busily campaigning across the country as they canvass votes to replace outgoing Joseph Kabila. The DRC is hoping for its first ever peaceful transition of power.

The Lamuka coalition comprises three aspirants and two banned hopefuls. The two are former vice president Jean Pierre Bemba and ex-governor of Katanga province, Moise Katumbi.

Other major candidates in the official pool of 21 include a former minister of interior Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, running on the ticket of the ruling coalition and Felix Tshisekedi, a son of a deceased veteran opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi.

Je propose un débat retransmis en direct à la télévision et radio nationale + médias privés entre les candidats à la présidentielle. Ce sera l’occasion de démontrer que sur le terrain des idées et leur mise en application notre coalition apporte des propositions concrètes. #RDC

— Martin Fayulu (@MartinFayulu) December 17, 2018

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