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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs