Congo’s president, seeking a second term in a nation reeling from poverty and pummeled by war, was leading Saturday in early results, but his opponents insisted he step aside and accused him of trying to engineer “carnage.” President Joseph Kabila had 50.3 percent of the vote in early results from an election marred by technical problems and accusations of favoritism. Analysts had predicted he would likely win because the opposition candidates are splitting the vote.
In a show of unity, the 10 opposition parties held a press conference and accused Kabila of attempting to engineer a situation like Kenya, Zimbabwe or the Ivory Coast, all countries where rulers used the army to try to silence dissent and cling to power after losing at the polls.
“I think that Joseph Kabila could go down in history … if he were to say, ‘I’m a good sport and I lost,’” said opposition candidate Vital Kamerhe, a former speaker of Parliament. “He is preparing a carnage.”
International observers noted irregularities including possible instances of fraud, but most said the shortcomings seemed to be due to technical glitches rather than a systematic attempt to rig the vote.
Due to bad weather, planes carrying ballots did not take off in time to reach the remote interior of this gigantic nation, which stretches over a territory as large as Western Europe.
Monday’s vote had to be extended for three days in order to give porters carrying ballots on their heads, on bicycles, in canoes and in wheelbarrows to reach the distant corners of Congo.