DR Congo election panel ‘may postpone vote for a week’

Workers of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) load voting material into a truck at CENI´s regional office in Goma, North Kivu, on December 19, 2018, ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo’s general elections. – Democratic Republic of Congo goes to the polls on December 23, 2018 in elections which could see the country emerge from 17 years of conflict-ridden rule under the incumbent controversial president. (Photo by PATRICK MEINHARDT / AFP)

INSASH – DR Congo’s electoral supervisors may order a week-long postponement to presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Sunday, a senior official told AFP.

The Independent National Election Commission (CENI) is considering the move after a warehouse blaze destroyed most of the voting machines needed for the capital Kinshasa, the source said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A “seven-day postponement” is being discussed, said the official, who is with CENI.

The formal decision may be announced by CENI on Thursday, the source said.

The elections are a huge challenge for the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most volatile countries in Africa.

The nation has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

President Joseph Kabila, 47, is scheduled to step down after nearly 18 years in power, having succeeded his assassinated father in 2001.

Kabila should have stepped down as president at the end of 2016 when he reached a two-term limit. 

Elections for his successor should have been held at that point, but have been twice postponed.

Kabila was able to stay in office thanks to a caretaker clause under the constitution, but at the cost of protests that were bloodily repressed. 

Nearly 80 percent of 10,000 electronic voting machines needed to stage the election in Kinshasa were destroyed in a warehouse fire on December 13.

The blaze was a “major blow,” the CENI official said.

“The fire consumed materials destined for 19 of Kinshasa’s 24 districts,” Corneille Nangaa, head of CENI, told AFP at the time.

The city, which is also one of DRC’s 25 provinces, represents around 11 percent of the country’s 44 million registered voters. 

Efforts are underway to bring in voting machines from other parts of the country and to order replacement machines from the South Korean manufacturer, the CENI source said on Wednesday.

CENI would act independently in its decision on whether to postpone — “we are not going to ask for anyone’s opinion, even that of the head of state,” the source insisted.AFP

Source: https://www.enca.com/news/dr-congo-election-panel-may-postpone-vote-week

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