DRC vote 'generally peaceful'

The SADC election observer mission was concerned over the fact that DRC police and military were not permitted to vote.

04 January 2019 | Africa

The SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) on Wednesday says last week's election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was “generally peaceful” despite acts of violence that resulted in the loss of lives.

The mission also noted with concern the burning of one of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) warehouses in Kinshasa that resulted in damage to electoral materials during the pre-election phase and led to the postponement of the elections from 23 December to 30 December 2018.

In a statement issued on Wednesday the mission said while it had noted commendable efforts at enhancing voter participation, it had also noted that members of the armed forces and the Congolese national police were not allowed to vote, which was a violation of Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

The mission also observed that voters' lists were not accessible on the CENI website by 28 December 2018 despite the electoral law's provision that voters' lists must be published at least 30 days before election day.

The SEOM further recommended that CENI and the Congolese government facilitate voting abroad for expatriate citizens.

It also recommended that the government consider reviewing the electoral law in order to allow the armed forces and police to vote in elections.



Controversial

The SEOM statement comes amid rising concerns of election fraud following a string of irregularities at the DRC polls.

According to international media, voting in three districts that are opposition strongholds was postponed until March, with the electoral commission blaming insecurity and an Ebola virus outbreak.

As a result about 1.2 million people were cut out of the voting process and their votes essentially cancelled, as the new president is due to be sworn in by mid-January regardless of the March vote.

The country kicked out the European Union (EU) ambassador, Bart Ouvry, ahead of the election in response to an extension of EU sanctions against 14 people, including Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister who ran in Sunday's election.

The 14 were banned from entering the EU and their European assets were frozen.

Provisional results are expected on 6 January and the new president of the DRC will be inaugurated on 18 January.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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