58 years after, and with hiccups all the way, finally voting holds! But will outcome be accepted by all?
By Tajudeen Hamzat
Barring any last minute challenges, history will be made in the next hour in the Cobalt-capital of the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
This would be on account of the successful conclusion of the electoral process to choose a successor to outgoing President Joseph Kabila.
Voting in the polls which would give the country a chance at getting its first person-to-person democratic transition since Independence on 30th June, 1960 had commenced at 5am on Sunday.21 presidential candidates are in the race but the odds, analysts say favour the trio of Emmanuel Shadary (who is Kabila’s hand-picked successor), Felix Tsikeshedi (son of former Prime Minister Etienne Tshikeshedi) and the business mogul and lawmaker, Martin Fayulu.
Insistent on not been left out of the process, some 1.2m voters who had been disenfranchised from voting set up their own parallel voting centres and cast paper ballots of their own design and construction. It is most unlikely that the National Elections Commission, CENI, would integrate their own tally in the official results that it would subsequently declare.
And the parallel votes are only the more obvious part of the problem as in several authorised polling centres within the country there have been reports notably of voters arriving ahead of voting lists that were still being printed! And eventually, when some of them did come in, whole pages had been ommitted even as the long tally of names meant that name-checking and verification took a long time to sort out before voting could take place. There have also been reports of violence and voter intimidation.
In all therefore, observers hazard that as many as 40 per cent of the estimated 46million voters may finally not be able to cast their votes at the end of the day. Will the outcome then be acceptable particularly to the losers? We wait.
Meanwhile, even as the process continues to unfurl, more blame is being put at the doorsteps of outgoing President Joseph Kabila and his government over the hiccups experienced in the electioneering process. The latest is from U.S New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker who took to twitter to express his umbrage:
Cory BookerVerified account @CoryBooker2h2 hours ago
Reports that millions may not be able to vote in the election in Congo are deeply concerning. The government has failed to curb violence & hasn’t adequately prepared for the elections. I support legislation that calls for sanctions against those who undermine elections.’
Clearly, all of the story concerning this landmark election in this Central African nation may not have been told. Yet.
Martin Fayulu: Will he triumph?