After an election marred by missing ballots and violence, officials extended voting to a second day Tuesday in an attempt to prevent further unrest in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation. Country experts had urged the government to postpone Monday’s presidential and legislative elections, arguing that a delayed vote was better than a botched one.
Congo is in a race against the clock, though, because the five-year term of President Joseph Kabila expires next week, and the country could face more unrest if he is seen as staying past his constitutional mandate. The vote is only the second since the end of Congo’s last war, and the first to be organized by the government instead of the international community. The election was supposed to mark another step toward peace, but if the results are not accepted by the population, especially the country’s fractured opposition, analysts fear it could drag Congo back into conflict.
The spokesman of the election commission, Matthieu Mpita, announced late Monday that the election would be extended into a second day. “Voters at polling stations that never received ballots and which have not yet opened should await the delivery of the materials,” he said. “Voters that are at sites where ballots ran out and where the vote had to be interrupted for whatever reason are asked to stay calm and await further instructions.”
Less than 2 percent of roads are paved in Congo, which suffered decades of dictatorship and two civil wars. Some districts are so remote that ballot boxes had to be transported across muddy trails on the heads of porters, and by dugout canoe across churning rivers.
Full Article: Congo Elections 2011: Vote Extended To Second Day.