Congo’s deputy prime minister said on Saturday that tablet-like voting machines for December’s election had been made to order and will finish arriving this month, despite suspicions by diplomats and the opposition that they may enable fraud. President Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 17 years in power after a long-delayed vote scheduled for Dec. 23 to choose his successor. The election, which was meant to happen before Kabila’s mandate expired in 2016, had been delayed for so long that many doubted it would happen. If it goes ahead, it will be Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. This year, crucial milestones of the calendar — such as candidate registration — have been passed on time.
“A hundred and eighty containers from South Korea with the machines in them are on the sea,” Vice Prime Minister and Security Minister Henri Mova Sakanyi said in a statement, adding that 15 had already arrived and the rest would arrive by the end of October.
The introduction of electronic voting and the authorities’ exclusion of a number of candidates from the ballot — such as exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi and former Vice President and acquitted war crimes suspect Jean-Pierre Bemba — has prompted opposition leaders to cry foul.