Congolese people are unhappy with the electoral authorities’ decision to postpone presidential and parliamentary elections in some areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and have taken to the streets to protest the decision.
Elections are to hold on Sunday 30 December in the whole country but the electoral authority postponed the elections in three regions in the east and west of the country — Butembo, Beni and Yumbi as well as their surroundings — until March 2019. The commission cited recent Ebola outbreaks, militia violence and inter-community clashes as reasons behind the postponement. However, opposition parties and affected citizens think otherwise.
Opposition parties are accusing the authorities of wanting to rig the vote, while some citizens say it is an infringment on their rights to vote. Others think that the decision to postpone in those regions were not based on real issues.
Prior to the 27 December polls, the election was due in 2016 but it was not organized because the commission was not ready, this allowed President Kabila to remain in office almost two years after his second term, the maximum permitted by Congo’s constitution. On 23 December 2018, the country was to go to the polls but it was rescheduled by a week due a fire outbreak on 13 December in Kinshasa that the authorities said destroyed election materials.
In the DRC, it is constitutional not to hold elections in certain places if the electoral commission feels they cannot hold election. However, it is only a constitutional court and not the electoral commission that have sole rights to make such decisions.
With some areas still disenfranchised, the authorities say the presidential elections will continue as planned in the rest of the country on 30 December as planned, and the rest would thereafter be announced 15 January, three days after which the elected president will take the oath.
The three affected areas represent three percent of voters and no matter how minute, their votes make a great difference. But with the state of things, their votes would not be counted giving that elections in Butembo, Beni and Yumbi and the constituents in their surrounding communities will hold in March, three months after the Presidential elections have been held and the new president inuagurated.
Over the last decade, the Democratic Republic of Congo has faced various challenges that have crippled its economy and the resurgence of Ebola has worsened the state of things in the country. On 8 May 2018, DRC declared a new outbreak of Ebola in Bikoro Équateur Province by 1 August, it was confirmed that four persons had tested positive for the virus in the eastern region of Kivu. On 29 November, the 2018 Ebola outbreak in the Kivu region surpassed the total case count of each Ebola outbreak to become the second biggest Ebola outbreak ever.
Presently, there are a total record of 680 Ebola cases, 113 suspected cases and 519 confirmed cases in Democratic Republic of Congo.