A fire has destroyed much of an election commission warehouse in Kinshasa as tensions rise in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with just 10 days to go before historic presidential elections which could see the country’s first-ever democratic transition of power or bring further instability and violence. The fire damaged thousands of controversial new voting machines and has stoked fears the poll will be undermined by logistic challenges and fraud. Barnabé Kikaya bin Karubi, a presidential adviser, blamed unidentified “criminals“ for the blaze, which destroyed about 7,000 of the 10,000 voting machines due to be used in the capital, Kinshasa, but said preparations for the 23 December election were continuing. Kikaya said police guarding the warehouse – located in the upscale and usually secure Gombe riverside area of Kinshasa – had been arrested but made no further comment on what or who might have caused the blaze. Opposition supporters claimed the fire was the result of arson and accused Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, of seeking an excuse to postpone the poll.Full Article: Tensions rise as arsonists burn 7,000 voting machines ahead of DRC election | World news | The Guardian.
Articles about voting issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
An early-morning fire in Congo’s capital destroyed thousands of voting machines just 10 days before the presidential election, officials said Thursday, saying the blaze appeared to be criminal in nature but vowing that it would not disrupt the vote. Congo’s first use of voting machines on Dec. 23, a rarity in Africa, has caused concerns among the opposition, diplomats and experts about possible manipulation in favor of President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor. Kabila is stepping aside after taking power in 2001. The electoral commission said the fire broke out at a warehouse in Kinshasa, adding that it was too early to declare the cause or the extent of the damage.Full Article: Fire destroys thousands of Congo voting machines in capital.
It was the number of unidentified bodies bearing signs of torture arriving at the morgue that made Cherie*, a nurse at Kinshasa’s General Hospital, get involved in politics. As part of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress Party (UDPS), the main opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she handed out leaflets and took part in protests. In December 2009, the 20-year-old was arrested after attending a memorial service for activists who had been killed. For two weeks she was kept in the detention centre of the Rapid Intervention Police (Police d’intervention rapide, PIR).Full Article: As DRC election nears, 'tortured' dissidents in exile speak out | Africa | Al Jazeera.
The long-delayed and long-awaited race for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidency shifted into a new gear this week with the official launch of the candidates’ electoral campaigns. Exactly a month from now, some 40 million people, about half of the resource-rich country’s population, are expected to finally elect a new president after two years of postponements, uncertainty and turmoil. Outgoing President Joseph Kabila has controversially remained in office even though his second consecutive and final constitutional term officially expired in 2016. While Kabila insisted the election delays were due to challenges enrolling millions of voters and financial constraints, his refusal to step down sparked violent rallies in which dozens of protesters were killed.Full Article: With a month to key elections, 'difficult times ahead' for DRC | DR Congo News | Al Jazeera.
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. … Now attention turns to the voting machines, made by South Korean company Miru Systems, that security researchers say are vulnerable to rigging and print codes that include ballot-specific information that could strip away voters’ anonymity. The researchers include experts from Argentina, which rejected the company’s machines after learning of the issues.Full Article: As Congo rolls towards election, voting machines a….
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.”Full Article: DRC: Thousands rally against voting machines ahead of election - East Africa Monitor.
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.Full Article: DR Congo parties to name joint presidential candidate - BusinessGhana News | Politics.
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.”Full Article: As Congo rolls toward election, voting machines a flashpoint | The State.
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.Full Article: Congo's controversial voting machines start arriving | Reuters.
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.Full Article: UN Security Council asks DRC to examine voting machine use | News24.
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.”Full Article: Congo Leader Vows Elections to Proceed on Schedule in December - Bloomberg.
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.Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: The U.S. is warning Congo that using electronic voting machines could backfire - The Washington Post.
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.Full Article: Africa: Divide and Rule - the Problem With the DRC's Electoral System - allAfrica.com.
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.Full Article: Scores of pro-democracy activists held in DRC | News24.
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.Full Article: Decision on Bemba Ballot Push Could Affect Congo's Election.
Jean-Pierre Bemba has been banned from running in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election later this year by the country’s electoral commission. Bemba, a former vice president, was considered one of the top opposition contenders since returning to the country in August after he was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, an appeal in another case about interfering with witnesses is still pending. The electoral commission called that synonymous with corruption – DRC law prevents people convicted of corruption from running for president. The announcement came late on Friday as the electoral commission issued a list of eligible candidates for the long-delayed December 23 polls. Bemba can appeal the decision and the final list of candidates is expected next month.Full Article: Opposition leader Bemba banned from running for president | News | Al Jazeera.
Mountainous hurdles face the Democratic Republic of Congo as it prepares for elections, just four months away, that will shape the future of one of the world’s powder-keg countries. Organising elections among some 40 million voters in a troubled, impoverished state nearly five times the size of France is a huge challenge. But, prickly about intrusion, the DRC is rejecting offers of advice, oversight and election funding from abroad. On Monday, it was regional neighbour South Africa’s turn to be spurned. The authorities rejected the appointment of South African former president Thabo Mbeki as “special envoy” to the December 23 ballot, a role announced in the press but not officially confirmed by Pretoria.Full Article: Flash - Outside help not wanted, says DR Congo as key elections loom - France 24.
Joseph Kabila will not be a candidate in December elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to government officials. Many had predicted that the 47-year-old president, in power since 2001, would run for a third term, despite being barred from doing so by the constitution. Kabila’s candidacy was opposed by the US and EU, as well as significant regional actors. Hours before the legal deadline for deposing candidatures for the polls expired, a government spokesman said that the little-known Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister, would be the ruling coalition’s candidate.Full Article: Joseph Kabila ruled out as DRC election candidate | World news | The Guardian.
The technology company, Miru Systems Co., have growing concerns about the South Korean manufactured electronic voting machines in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s upcoming 2018 general elections. Apart from their vulnerability to hacking, there is a possibility that the QR codes used by the electronic voting machines could compromise voter and ballot secrecy. Since the first time that the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) proposed the use of electronic voting machines for the 2018 general elections, civil society organizations, and pro-democracy movements based in the DRC and around the world have been crying foul. Technical experts and security researchers identified significant similarities between the electronic voting technology currently proposed for implementation in Congo and models previously planned – and ultimately declined – for use in Argentina’s 2017 national elections.Full Article: The Democratic Republic of Congo's electronic voting machines worry security experts.
The head of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo warned Thursday that the right conditions are not yet in place for presidential elections this December, and without progress, the credibility of the vote could be compromised. “As violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms continue to impact negatively on democratic space, some peaceful demonstrations are suppressed,” U.N. envoy Leila Zerrougui told Security Council members. “Civil society actors and political opponents continue to be arbitrarily arrested and media workers threatened.” Zerrougui said the parties have not implemented confidence-building measures, and the security situation, particularly in the eastern part of the country, remains volatile and is deteriorating in some areas.Full Article: UN: Right Conditions Needed for Credible Elections in DRC.