Latest poll postponement inflames DRC tensions

Latest poll postponement inflames DRC tensions

from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – THE Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has plunged further into mayhem after the postponement of elections in some regions,  expulsion of a European diplomat and the attack on an Ebola treatment centre.

DRC election

While opinion polls indicated opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, was
favourite to win election, there is concern over a delay in voting in some conflict-affected areas – until after a new president takes office.

Association for Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC) announced that parts of North Kivu province in eastern Congo and Mai Ndombe, especially Beni, Butembo (North-East) and Yumbi (South-East) province in the western would not vote until March.

AFRIC attributed this to insecurity and the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and ethnic violence in Mai Ndombe.

Beni city, Beni territory, Butembo city and Yumbi are the most affected.

“For the first two cities (Beni and Butembo), the delay is linked to the Ebola epidemic. As far as Yumbi, it is a recent inter-ethnic conflict that has affected the territory, resulting in massive population displacement and destruction of all electoral materials and documents,” AFRIC said.

AFRIC believes measures to prevent the outbreak of violence and the spread of Ebola were justified.

The published statement also refers to the postponement of elections in three cities: Beni, Butembo (North-East) and Yumbi (South-East) until March.

However, AFRIC expressed confidence the elections on Sunday (today) would be held transparently and democratically.

For the first time DRC would conduct its election using voting machines, the first of such technology on the African continent.

“These machines are sure to bring more transparency to this vote : reducing the risk of fraud and error in the counting of votes. This innovation is undoubtedly a very positive element.”

It is believed another advantage for the voting machines was time-saving and cost-effectiveness.

“Indeed, use of them (voting machines) can significantly reduce the time required to count votes… the advantage is cost-effectiveness, because it can significantly save, from a financial point of view, the logistics costs required to transport ballots and voter lists to CENI (Independent Electoral Commission) in such a wide area.

“All this confirms that a large African country such as DRC opens the way for others, relying on new technologies, without fear and confidence,” said AFRIC.

– CAJ News

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