• en

DR Congo Presidential Election Marred by Delays and Disputes; Voting Extends to Second Day

Nobel Peace Laureate Denis Mukwege alleged that the “electoral fraud of the century” was taking place.

Widespread problems during Wednesday’s presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have led to an unprecedented extension into a second day. The head of the electoral commission estimates that, despite the challenges, at least 70% of voters have had the chance to cast their ballots.

Incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi faces a field of 18 candidates in what has become a high-stakes election. However, four of his challengers, including Martin Fayulu, the runner-up in the disputed 2018 presidential election, are calling for the entire poll to be canceled. Fayulu described the situation as “total chaos,” emphasizing that the elections would not be accepted if all people couldn’t vote in the designated polling stations.

Nobel Peace Laureate Denis Mukwege went further, alleging that the “electoral fraud of the century [was] taking place.” Two other candidates joined Fayulu and Mukwege in demanding a rerun, while businessman Moïse Katumbi, though cautious, highlighted “many failures” in the process.

The 75,000 polling stations were slated to open just after sunrise on Wednesday, but delays in the delivery of election materials and technical issues with electronic voting machines caused disruptions nationwide. According to the Symocel observer group, nearly 60% of polling stations opened late, and 30% of voter materials were defective.

Election chief Denis Kadima acknowledged the issues but asserted that “not less than 70%” of the 44 million registered voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots on Wednesday. He announced the extension into a second day for those who couldn’t vote on the initial day.

Counting has commenced in polling stations where the voting process was successfully completed. The results, including the parliamentary, provincial, and municipal representatives, are expected by December 31. The candidate with the most votes, without requiring a run-off if they fail to cross the 50% mark, will be declared the winner.

This election comes amid worsening conflicts in the mineral-rich east of the country, with some areas inaccessible due to rebel activity. The large number of challengers to President Tshisekedi could potentially work to his advantage, as it may divide opposition support.

The DRC, roughly four times the size of France, faces significant infrastructural challenges, with two-thirds of its 100 million population living below the poverty line. As the nation awaits the election results, concerns rise about the impact of these delays and disputes on the stability and legitimacy of the democratic process in the DRC.

Kiki Garba

Follow us on: