Electoral officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say the country is 99 percent ready for Monday's presidential and legislative vote. The leading opposition candidate on Sunday backed off plans to hold a rally in violation of a ban on political activity ahead of the vote.
Electoral commission president Daniel Ngoy-Mulunda says poll workers at more than 63,000 polling stations stand ready to help voters advance Congolese democracy.
On Monday, Ngoy-Mulunda says, the electoral commission invites the Congolese people to the polls in peace, serenity, and mutual respect. He is calling on all citizens to exercise their constitutional right to choose a president and members of the national assembly.
Despite concerns about delays in the distribution of electoral materials in a country the size of Western Europe, this vote will go ahead as scheduled.
Speaking to reporters Sunday evening, Ngoy-Mulunda said 99 percent of the country is ready for the vote, and by Monday morning he hopes it will be 100 percent.
Once vote counting is complete, each party representative in each polling station will receive a copy of the vote totals before that document is scanned and sent electronically to electoral commission headquarters in Kinshasa to help prevent fraud.
There are more than 18,000 candidates for 500 seats in the national assembly. Ten men are running against incumbent president Joseph Kabila. And some are already claiming electoral fraud. Opposition candidate Vital Kamerhe showed reporters what he said were ballot papers already marked for President Kabila.
Ngoy-Mulunda says there is no evidence of fraud concerning the South-African-printed ballots. “We have called the government of South Africa to make an investigation. The government made the investigation. Today the ambassador announced, among other ambassadors, that that one is not true. Our papers we have some security features. The investigation done by the South African government is also their reputation. Because even myself, CENI president, I don't have a single ballot," he said.
The main opposition presidential candidate in this vote, Etienne Tshisekedi, backed off plans for a Sunday rally that would have violated a ban on electioneering on the so-called day of reflection before the vote.
He was blocked by riot police at Kinshasa's airport for more than ten hours Saturday and was unable to meet with supporters.
Tshisekedi told reporters early Sunday that he was going ahead with his rally despite the ban. But the long-time opposition leader appears to have been convinced to back off that plan by advisers who say they fear for his safety.
Small groups of riot police took up positions Sunday between Tshisekedi headquarters and the stadium where he announced the rally would be held. There were no large crowds of Tshisekedi supporters as there had been Saturday.
Polls open Monday at 6 am local time. Final results are expected December 5, one day before President Kabila's current mandate expires.