Hello and welcome to the details of Congo votes in extended election as opposition calls for rerun and now with the details
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - An Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) official sleeps at a polling centre following the Presidential election in Goma, North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo December 20, 2023. — Reuters pic
KINSHASA, Dec 21 — The Democratic Republic of Congo voted today on the second day of a chaotic and in parts violent general election after authorities extended opening hours for polling stations that failed to open the previous day.
The elections across Africa’s second-largest country were disrupted on Wednesday by delays in delivering election kits in several places and malfunctioning equipment. People also struggled to find their names on registers, while violence caused chaos in other places.
The decision by the election commission, known as CENI, to extend the vote was also rejected by five presidential candidates who have called for a rerun.
At stake is not just the legitimacy of the next administration. Congolese election disputes often spark violent unrest with potentially far-reaching consequences. Congo is the world’s third-largest copper producer, and the top producer of cobalt, a battery component needed for the green transition.
Early today in Kabare in Congo’s restive eastern region, 21-year-old Jean Claude Irenge Kalumuna was among the first residents to cast his vote, after leaving the polling station disappointed on Wednesday.
“It makes me happy because yesterday I left here angry,” Kalumuna said. “I condemn this way of operating by the CENI with all this disorder, which proves that they were not ready, but they led people to believe that everything was ready.”
Throughout Wednesday, observers flagged delays or failures opening polling stations and other issues, including malfunctioning electronic voting systems.
Speaking to reporters in the capital Kinshasa after polls were meant to have closed on Wednesday, CENI president Denis Kadima acknowledged that many polling stations across the country had opened late and some not at all.
He said that the delays would not affect the credibility of the process.
In a joint statement late on Wednesday, the five opposition candidates, including top challengers Martin Fayulu and Nobel Laureate Denis Mukwege, said the commission had no constitutional or legal right to extend the vote.
They demanded “the reorganisation of these failed elections by a differently structured CENI” and at a date agreed by all stakeholders.
The tumult of election day followed a campaign marred by political violence and repeated warnings from the opposition and observers about a lack of transparency. Their concerns included issues with the voter list and illegible ID cards.
But for months, the electoral commission rejected the opposition’s allegations of mismanagement and fraud. It insisted it could deliver a free and fair vote as promised, even as critics flagged irregularities they said would jeopardise the legitimacy of the results. — Reuters
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