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Concern over DRC polls as CENI hints of postponement


Analysts say the postponement plan may really have been long in coming

By Nsikan Ikpe


There is growing concern that the long-awaited Sunday, December 23 polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC may be postponed.

This is on account of a hint by the National Electoral Commission, CENI that it may be better to postpone the contest if the commission has not taken delivery of replacement electoral materials that are presently being awaited and properly deployed them to the various voting precincts.

It will be recalled that only a few days ago, a mystery fire had ravaged a Kinshasha warehouse where about 80 per cent of the polling materials expected to be used in the conduct of the polls had been stored.

The fire which is widely believed to be an arsonist’s call has since been blamed by some observers on ‘anti-democratic forces’ who have never wanted the elections to hold in the first place.

Strangely, commentators say, almost no security was provided for the warehouse even when it was obvious that it contained such sensitive materials.

Elections have been due in the former Belgian colony since 2016 but incumbent President Joseph Kabila, who has already served his mandatory terms in office, has been stalling on its conduct while searching for ways to surreptitiously amend the constitution to make himself eligible for more terms in office.

Indeed, there are feelers that Kabila may already be plotting a Putin-style comeback after just one term away from formal power. And to guarantee that, he is allegedly not going to relinquish control of the ruling party even as he has carefully chosen an anointed successor that he is most confident would not rock the boat. But even for this plan to have a chance of succeeding, that successor must first win at the polls.

On the face of things presently, this is proving to be a tall order as President Kabila’s anointed successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary is trailing both former Prime Minister, Etienne Tshikeshiedi and opposition consensus candidate, Martin Fayulu in shadow polling that has been conducted ahead of the formal vote.

Perhaps also underscoring the desperation of Team kabila, a ban was recently placed on further open campaigning by candidates in the Kinshasha area which was the hotbed of many opposition-led protests to force the forthcoming vote and which is very clearly then a marked opposition stronghold.



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