Voting in Congo was extended into Tuesday after the first day of elections was marred by the late delivery of voting materials, errors on the ballot papers and by pockets of violence. Country experts had urged the government to postpone Monday’s presidential and legislative election, arguing that a delayed election 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 unrest if he is seen as staying past his constitutional mandate.
Anger began to boil over in opposition strongholds in the capital where voters waited since dawn for ballots to be delivered. 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.”
Pockets of violence were reported throughout the country. Five people were killed in the southeastern town of Lubumbashi on Monday after gunmen opened fire on a truck carrying ballots and on a polling center. The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, Roger Meece, told reporters that he had received reports of at least two polling stations being set on fire in the Kananga province.