Presidential Election Postponed In Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo’s election board has postponed a long-anticipated presidential vote scheduled for Sunday by one week until Dec. 30 after a fire destroyed voting materials.
Already delayed repeatedly since 2016, the poll is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, stepping down after 18 years in what would be Congo’s first democratic transition.
Following a meeting with candidates in the capital, the electoral commission (CENI) said it was unable to provide sufficient ballot papers for Kinshasa after a warehouse blaze last week destroyed much of the capital’s election material.
“We cannot organise general elections without the province of Kinshasa, and without the Kinois voters – who represent 10 percent of the electoral body,” CENI president Corneille Nangaa told newsmen.
“The presidential, legislative and provincial ballots will take place on Dec. 30 2018.”
The decision may further stir the volatile and violent nation of 80 million people after several government crackdowns on opposition rallies in the run-up to the vote.
After the announcement, a crowd outside CENI headquarters started shouting in protest. Police pushed them back.
Security forces have killed dozens of people in the past two years demonstrating against Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate officially expired in December 2016.
Hundreds of university students took to the streets in Kinshasa on Thursday, protesting any delay to the vote.
Many Congolese hope the election can help draw a line under decades of conflict and economic stagnation.
Millions died in two wars around the turn of the century and dozens of militia remain active near the eastern borders, where they fight over ethnic rivalries and natural resources.
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