Thousands of opposition supporters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Friday rallied against the use of voting machines in the country’s upcoming election. In a rare move, President Joseph Kabila’s government authorised the protest although security forces were deployed throughout the capital Kinshasa and various other cities. However, unlike previous protests, which have ended in deadly violence, Friday’s demonstration passed without incident. Tension ahead of the DRC’s long-awaited presidential election is high, following the electoral commission’s decision to bar former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba and regional baron Moise Katumbi from running. Bemba is among the opposition politicians calling upon supporters to rally against what he described as “the greatest electoral fraud ever with electronic machines that have not been tested anywhere in the world.”
Articles about voting issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Opposition parties from the Democratic Republic of Congo say that they will decide on one joint candidate for December’s presidential elections. After meeting in South Africa, seven parties agreed to name the candidate by the 15 November. Correspondents say it would be surprising if all the opposition candidates stick to the agreement. The election should result in DR Congo’s first democratic transition of power.
A deadly Ebola outbreak grows. Rebels kill civilians in the streets. And yet the arrival of voting machines in this troubled corner of Congo has some especially worried as a long-delayed presidential election promises further upheaval. The machines now arriving by the thousands in this Central African nation are of such concern that the U.N. Security Council has come calling, the United States has issued warnings and opposition supporters on Friday plan a national protest. As Congo faces what could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power, fears are high that the more than 100,000 voting machines will be ripe for manipulation. They also could pose a technical nightmare in a sprawling nation of more than 40 million voters where infrastructure is dodgy — just 9 percent of Congo has electricity — and dozens of rebel groups are active. “We cannot accept people inventing stories that trample our constitution,” said Clovis Mutsuva, a Beni resident with the LUCHA activist organization, which has tweaked the French term “machines a voter” into “machines a voler,” or “machines to steal.”
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.
The United Nations Security Council has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission to open dialogue on the use of voting machines for December elections. French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who co-headed a delegation with ambassadors from Bolivia and Equatorial Guinea, said on Sunday the security council wants the commission to consider a “broad consensus”. Voting machine use has been disputed by some presidential candidates and opposition leaders.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila vowed delayed elections to select his successor will take place as planned this year. Presidential and parliamentary votes have been delayed since 2016, after the electoral commission failed to organize them on time. The central African nation, which is the world’s largest cobalt producer, hasn’t had a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. “I reaffirm the irreversible character of holding the elections planned for the end of this year,” Kabila told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. “Everything will be implemented in order to guarantee the peaceful and credible character of these polls.”
Congo: The U.S. is warning Congo that using electronic voting machines could backfire | The Washington Post
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has a warning for another country preparing for a presidential election: Use electronic voting machines at your own risk. At a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York late last month, Haley called on Congo to abandon its plan to use the machines for the first time in favor of paper ballots — what she called a “trusted, tested, transparent and easy-to-use voting method.” And earlier this year, she said: “These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system.” But the U.S. is still working to secure its own election infrastructure from the threat of foreign interference and cyberattacks — and though security experts and top federal officials here have also called on states to use machines with paper trails, it’s an uphill battle.
Under the current rules (changed months before the last elections in 2011), the DRC’s next president could come to power with just 5.3% of the vote. When voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) finally go to the polls on 23 December, it looks like they will be faced with a choice of at least 19 presidential candidates. This crowded race is too close to call, but whoever emerges victorious will be tasked with governing a vast and diverse nation of around 80 million people. They will need to be the president not just of those who voted for them, but also of those that didn’t. This is a challenge for any elected leader, but in the DRC’s case, this latter group could consist of the vast majority of the population.
Police arrested and violently dispersed scores of pro-democracy activists on Monday protesting against controversial voting machines that the government wants to use in key elections later this year. The pro-democracy movement Lucha (Struggle for Change) says the South Korean touch screen voting machines will pave the way for fraud in the long-delayed December 23 ballot. Police detained 22 Lucha activists briefly in Kinshasa as they demonstrated outside the office of the national electoral commission (CENI), police said. “They tried to march but were arrested by police. But there was no reason to hold them so I let them go,” Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo said.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporters of former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba are demanding he be allowed on the ballot for the December 23 presidential election. Congo’s electoral commission disqualified Bemba because of his 2016 conviction by the International Criminal Court. The court said Bemba was responsible for war crimes committed by his militia in the Central African Republic. But in June, the court overturned the conviction and released Bemba from prison. His party, the Movement of the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), argues that the ICC case is finished and Bemba should be allowed on the ballot.