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Official: Elections in DR Congo ‘Might Be Postponed’

 

President Joseph Kabila is scheduled to step down after nearly 18 years in power following the elections – which are already two years overdue.

Nearly 8,000 of some 10,000 voting terminals for the capital Kinshasa were destroyed in the warehouse blaze last Wednesday, according to CENI.

Around 11% of the country’s 44 million registered voters live in the city.

Opposition candidates last week suggested that the government could have been behind the fire, to use as a pretext to delay the vote once again.

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A “seven-day postponement” is being discussed, the CENI official said on Wednesday, as efforts are made to obtain replacement machines.

“We are not going to ask for anyone’s opinion, even that of the head of state,” the source insisted, adding that a formal decision may be announced on Thursday.

‘Extremists are prepared’

The possible election postponement comes as problems have piled up ahead of the December 23 vote, with violence at electoral rallies, inter-ethnic conflict, militia attacks in the east and an Ebola outbreak.

The governor of Kinshasa on Wednesday announced a ban on all public rallies due to security concerns – as opposition hopeful Martin Fayulu said he had been blocked from entering the city.

“Extremists are prepared and are preparing for confrontations in the streets of the city of Kinshasa during election campaigning,” Governor Andre Kimbuta said in a statement.

The statement, which was confirmed by the Kinshasa police, said the ban would not apply to “use of media” to convey campaign messages.

The ban applies to “all presidential candidates, without exception,” Kimbuta said, giving no details as to how long the measure would last.

Crucial vote

More than 40 million people are eligible to cast their vote on Sunday.

The elections are a huge challenge for DRC, which has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila, 47, came to power after his father was assassinated in 2001.

He is at the helm of a government that critics say is notorious for corruption, incompetence and rights abuse.

Twenty-one candidates are vying to replace him.

The pack is led by Kabila’s hand-picked successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister linked to the crackdown, and opposition leaders Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi.

 

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Written by How Africa

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