News / Africa

Delays Threaten Elections in Democratic Republic of Congo

Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and allied parties rally demanding more transparency in the November 28 election preparation process, Kinshasa, October 13, 2011.
Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and allied parties rally demanding more transparency in the November 28 election preparation process, Kinshasa, October 13, 2011.

Presidential campaigning begins this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  But opposition parties and international election observers have expressed concern next month's poll may be postponed.  VOA West Africa Correspondent Scott Stearns has more.

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila's biggest challenger in this vote is longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Unlike in the last presidential election, Congo's constitution no longer requires a candidate to win more than 50 percent of the vote. Without a second round, whoever gets the most votes wins.

With official campaigning set to begin Friday, President Kabila says Congo is ready.

DRC President Joseph Kabila (file photo)
DRC President Joseph Kabila (file photo)

"If the electoral commission tell us they are ready, then we also have to be ready. I am sure that up to now they are ready and we will go for elections."

Opposition parties say the electoral commission is not ready for the poll because the preparation and distribution of voting materials is behind schedule and voter registration was not honestly conducted. Jacquemin Shabani is the secretary general of Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress party.

Shabani says the party has notified the electoral commission in writing about what it says are various irregularities in the process, including questions of identification during voter registration. Shabani says it is important that this vote be credible and transparent, so the process must be adjusted.

President Kabila's opponents say they will not know the extent of problems with voter lists until they are published at each local polling station. But the locations of more than 62,000 polling stations have not yet been announced, slowing the process further.

Etienne Tshisekedi - Kabila's most formidable opponent in the presidential race (file photo)
Etienne Tshisekedi - Kabila's most formidable opponent in the presidential race (file photo)

Election observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center say there are serious threats to the election schedule that must be addressed now. Baya Kara heads the Carter Center observation team in Kinshasa.

Kara says that if the electoral commission stays on course with the printing and delivery of ballot papers, and if ballot boxes are delivered on time and poll workers are hired and trained promptly, the election date of November 28 can be maintained. But Kara says this is a challenge that needs a huge effort, including the publication of voter rolls as fast as possible.

The electoral commission says the printing of ballot papers in South Africa is underway and the delivery of ballot boxes made in China is on schedule.

Information Minister Lambert Mende says Congolese security forces are taking “practical measures” to ensure that all campaigns have equal protection and freedoms.

“Every man, every woman in Congo is free to defend his ideas. Every organization is free to dispatch its ideas. Everybody is free to elect who he likes to elect while protected by the state.”

But the International Foundation for Electoral Systems director in Kinshasa, Gregory Kehailia, says security is already a problem.

Kehailia says part of the security problem is a lack of dialogue between the electoral commission and opposition parties concerning the electoral timetable and the publication of voter lists - delays that Kehailia says appear to be making President Kabila's opponents more radical.

When the voter lists are published, Kehailia says that could be a flashpoint for violence if opposition parties are not convinced the process was transparent.

If the poll is delayed, Kehailia says it should not be delayed on the eve of the vote because that would be seen by the opposition as an intentional manipulation of the process. If transparency and security are not guaranteed, Kehailia says the leading opposition candidate and the president will each claim victory, a move he says will provoke tension and violence.


You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid