Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Can the DR Congo electoral commission overcome daunting challenges a week before elections?

A woman passes in front of the Commission Electorale Nationale Independante (CENI) headquarters on November 5, 2017 in Kinshasa.   -  
Copyright © africanews
JOHN WESSELS/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Nervousness and difficulties are mounting ahead of the December 20 elections in DR Congo. As conflict rages in the east and fears of fraud linger following the disputed 2018 election, Eric Nsenga sounds the alarm.

"We are headed for a fragile electoral context with feelings of frustration for part of the 2018 elections, and challenges for others with regard to the 2023 elections, and I believe that the political elite has not taken that into account," the national coordinator of the observer mission of the ECC says.

The ECC is a union of 62 Protestant denominations in the DRC.

All the major opposition presidential candidates have urged vigilance.

The opposition has long accused the government of stacking the electoral commission as well as the Constitutional Court, the final arbiter of electoral disputes.

But concerns about the electoral roll also remain an issue, with opposition figures having unsuccessfully pushed for an audit.

Opposition politician Martin Fayulu has said he believes there are 10 million fictitious names on the roll. "We need to mobilise to stop this electoral parody," he said.

Congolese political analyst Alain de Georges Shukrani told AFP that "they think the roll has been tampered with, and there is very little confidence in the process".

Late last month, the European Union cancelled its election observation mission to the DRC after it failed to receive permits to use satellite equipment.

Growing concerns

Staging elections is a daunting challenge in a country roughly the size of continental western Europe which suffers from a lack of key infrastructure.

The country of about 100 million people has with very few roads, and the electoral commission, CENI, is still struggling to distribute voting material.

But concerns about the electoral roll also remain an issue, with opposition figures having unsuccessfully pushed for an audit.

Adding to that issues such as power outages. Machines are indeed set to be used during this election.

"We are in a country where there are power outages all the time. Have they already come up with solutions? Are the batteries charged?," Eric Nsenga ask.

"With 7 days to the election, many things have not yet been clarified ... Then you have to add the problems of (electoral) mapping. You know up to today we do not have downloadable mapping, whereas mapping helps locate the centres and polling stations with physical addresses," he adds.

And an unidentified number of voter cards have faded to illegibility because they were printed on cheap paper. Many need to be replaced. 

Nsenga also fears authorities didn't anticipate a scenario of disputed polls.

"There 100,000 canditates running in the presidential, legislative, provincial and local election. Still, the deadline has not changed, the institutions have not changed, the human resources remain the same. Have we imagined the litigation scenarios. What if there were challenges to the results? The judges, the courts will be overwhelmed."

The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo CENI, reportedly sougth the help of the UN mission in the nation (MONUSCO) on Tuesday (Dec. 12) to dispatch voting material.

View more