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DR Congo: Faulty voters' cards raise concern ahead Dec 20 election

Elisha Manishimwe holds his voter's card in the Kanyaruchinya displaced camp outside Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023.   -  
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Moses Sawasawa/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

With just a few days to go before the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the issue of faulty voters' cards is worrying voters and election observers alike.

At a time when the DRC is already weakened by attacks from the M23 rebellion and other armed groups, the issue risks adding a new layer to the spectre of a post-election crisis.

As Congo prepares to hold elections on Dec. 20, a record 6.9 million people are displaced across the vast Central African nation, according to the United Nations. In the east, fighting between the military and M23 rebels has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in recent months and exacerbated a humanitarian crisis.

While many of those displaced do not even have voter’s cards, the cards' poor quality is another concern: printed with thermal ink, they are quickly becoming illegible. Neema Simba, a Goma resident, said the voter cards used to be of much better quality. “Look is this a card or just a piece of paper? My name is no longer visible, my face has faded, look this is a card, we used to have good cards but look at this one, the authorities lied to us” she said.

As far as political parties are concerned, the faulty voter cards are already prompting some candidates to use strong words to undermine the credibility of this election.

Espoir Ngalukiye, candidate of the Ensemble pour la République (Together for the Republic) party for the Goma deputy elections, said some of the names and faces have already faded and are no longer visible on the voter caards.

However, observers are also worried about the outcome of this election.

Political analyst Alfred Wamona Brave said the voters are also hesitant to be sure about the credibility of the election, arguing that the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was facing "number of challenges" in addition to the potential faulty ID cards.

The election also faces enormous logistical obstacles. Last week, the electoral commission told the presidency that it urgently needed four Antonov aircraft and 10 helicopters to transport electoral materials to all localities.

While some observers doubt the election can be held properly, the commission maintains that the timetable will be respected for Congo's nearly 44 million registered voters to cast ballots.

Voters will be casting ballots for national and provincial legislative and municipal councilors as well as for the presidency.

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