7 January 2019

Southern Africa: DRC Polls - SADC and AU Cannot Afford to Let the People of Congo Down

Photo: Radio Okapi/Photo John Bompengo
An agent of the CENI presents the results sheet of the manual counting of the newsletters of a polling station on 31/12/2018 after the vote organized on 30 December.

As the DRC counts votes from the presidential election, the regional and continental body will be crucial in determining the poll's legitimacy.

When the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) finally went to the polls on 30 December, the vote was marred by chaotic scenes and logistical problems. The following day, the government shut down the internet to avoid speculation about the outcome. Provisional results were expected on Sunday 6 January, though the electoral commission announced that this could be delayed. Many in the Congo believe they are now just effectively awaiting the final step in the regime's exhaustive plan to keep hold of power despite its huge lack of popularity.

The warning signs have been glaring for a long time. As far back as 2016, President Joseph Kabila was trying to change the constitution to allow him to stay in power after the end of his final mandated term. When these attempts failed, he simply disregarded it and declined to organise elections.

When the people protested vehemently by taking to the streets in towns and cities,...

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