GOMA, DRC —
A leaked letter from the Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission says the commission has not received the funding it was allocated for upcoming elections, holding up preparations for the vote.
The letter from the Independent National Electoral Commission, known by the French acronym CENI, was a reaction to a government minister's statement that the commission had enough money to prepare for national, provincial and local elections between now and the end of next year.
But Hans Hoebeke, an analyst for the International Crisis Group who follows the DRC’s electoral process, said that according to CENI's letter, it has received only 17 percent of the funds allocated to it since 2013.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende declined to comment on the figures. But he did say that the $1 billion-plus budget approved by parliament for CENI seemed excessive for a country with a total budget of only $8 billion, and was based on the assumption that external donors would help pay, which they now seem reluctant to do.
Hoebeke described the budget as monumental. He said the elections could be staged for a lot less, and that both the budgeting and the electoral process were far from transparent.
Hoebeke told VOA he visited CENI’s offices in Katanga province recently and saw a risk for enormous waste. He said he saw dilapidated equipment and material and that the commission has vehicles that haven’t been used since 2011. He also said ballot boxes from the last election allegedly were being widely used now as rubbish bins.
The letter from CENI's staff cast more doubt on the DRC's election process. The process had already suffered a blow this week when Abbott Apollinaire Malu-Malu, chief of the electoral commission, resigned, citing health reasons.
Opponents of President Joseph Kabila have expressed concern that he wants to postpone next year's presidential vote in hopes of staying in office beyond his second term.