AFRICA/ DR CONGO – Election calendar made public: eight elections in two years

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) – The National Independent Election Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of Congo has made public a long awaited Election Calendar . “The Calendar is ambitious, - remarks Congo Network for Peace which sent the news to Fides - since it aims to hold a series of elections in a time space only 2 years: direct election of provincial, city, and area counsellors (25 October 2015); indirect election of national Senators (17 January 2016), urban counsellors, burgomasters and heads of department (20 January 2016), governors and deputy governors (31 January 2016), mayors and mayors adjunct (7 March 2016); direct elections of the President of the Republic and national members of parliament (27 November 2016)”.
“A tight programme: eight elections, direct and indirect, and one wonders if all this can possibly be organised within the establish dates, especially considering that in eight years (early 2007 to end of 2014), only two elections were held: highly contested presidential and legislative in 2011” the report remarks. Many observers fear that delays in one lap will delay in the entire process. However CENI is convinced the plan is possible, but on certain conditions.
The first condition is the question of funding. In view of the organisation of the series of elections, CENI, which estimates that it will be necessary to raise 1.145.408.680 US dollars, says it is already in agreement with the government for a plan to make these monies available. However one might ask where the government expects to find such a considerable sum knowing that the annual national budget amounts only to 9 billion dollars. Various members of the opposition and civil society foresee that this economic difficult could be used by the regime in power as a pretext for suspending and postponing the organization of presidential and legislative scheduled for 27 November 2016.
The second condition of a legislative nature, concerns the approval and promulgation of the law on the repartition of seats in the house of national representatives according to the different electoral areas .
To overcome these difficulties the opposition suggests the order of the election process should be inverted and start with elections of provincial representatives, national senators and provincial governors in 2015, continuing with presidential elections in 2016, to close with municipal and local elections after 2016.
Regarding the economic difficulties, the estimated electoral budget of over one billion dollars, must be lowered and adapted to the actual situation in Congo. “On this subject, what happened to the material (plastic ballet boxes, voting booths, computers, other kits, etc) used in previous elections ?” the note ends. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/2/2015)