In a dramatic turn of events, Congo extends voting amid opposition's rerun demands while the President tipped for second term.
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has extended its presidential and legislative elections into Thursday following widespread delays, opposition allegations of fraud, violence, and logistical setbacks.
The national election commission (CENI) made its decision following a contentious campaign that featured political violence and numerous warnings from the opposition and observers about a lack of transparency.
CENI President Denis Kadima acknowledged that numerous polling stations across the country had opened late or not at all, prompting the decision to extend voting for those affected.
However, this move has triggered a sharp response from a group of opposition presidential candidates, including top challengers Martin Fayulu and Denis Mukwege, who are now calling for a rerun of the chaotic vote.
The opposition and independent observers had previously expressed concerns about a possible extension, fearing it could facilitate fraud.
The opposition candidates demanded a reorganization of the elections by a CENI with a different structure at a time that all parties could agree upon in a joint statement, arguing that the commission had no constitutional or legal authority to prolong the vote.
CENI President Denis Kadima defended the extension, asserting that it aimed to grant equal voting rights to all Congolese citizens.
Throughout the election day, reports emerged of delays in opening polling stations, malfunctioning electronic voting systems, and violent attacks.
Nobel Peace Laureate Denis Mukwege condemned the "proliferation of serious dysfunction and irregularities," expressing fears that the chaotic vote would not reflect the will of the people. The concerns raised by the opposition include issues with the voter list and illegible ID cards.
The international community, including Congo's powerful Catholic Church known as CENCO, expressed concern that the extension would undermine the integrity of the results.
CENCO Secretary-General Donatien Nshole emphasized the importance of conducting the election in one day to avoid fraud. The observer mission warned that an extended voting period could compromise the credibility, transparency, and reliability of the results.
Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa on December 18.
The elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo hold significance beyond its borders. As the world's third-largest copper producer and the top producer of cobalt, a crucial component in batteries for the green transition, the political instability and disputes surrounding the election could have far-reaching consequences for the global economy.
While full provisional results were initially expected by December 31, the recent developments have cast uncertainty on the election timeline.
Calls for electoral transparency persist, with opposition figures urging supporters to monitor the publication of results at each polling station.
The electoral commission's repeated rejection of allegations of mismanagement and fraud adds to the complexity of the situation, leaving the future political landscape of the mineral-rich yet poverty-stricken nation hanging in the balance.
The Democratic Republic of Congo finds itself at a crossroads as election chaos continues to unfold. With the extension of voting amidst widespread delays and opposition allegations of fraud, the nation's political landscape hangs in uncertainty.
Calls for a rerun by top opposition candidates and concerns raised by international observers underscore the fragility of the electoral process.
The global significance of Congo's mineral resources adds an additional layer of complexity, emphasizing the need for transparent and credible elections.
As the nation awaits the outcome, the specter of unrest looms, and the potential consequences of this electoral turmoil extend far beyond the borders of the DRC.