AFRICA/DR CONGO - Fears are being accentuated over the vote of the 23rd December

Monday, 17 December 2018 elections  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The elections of December 23rd in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are at risk, where on December 13th, 8,000 electronic voting machines were destroyed following the fire that broke out in the depot where they were kept in Kinshasa. The equipment was destined to the seats of the 19 municipalities of the Congolese capital.
The serious incident on whose nature, accidental or faudulent, is still being examined, is not the only obstacle to the vote of December 23, where 40 million Congolese are expected to elect the Head of State, 500 deputies of the National Parliament and 715 regional deputies spread over 26 local assemblies.
In addition to the lack of the delivery of electronic voting machines, there are delays in the distribution of the electoral reports to be filled out, which are printed in South Africa and which still have to arrive in the DRC. Once they arrive in the Country, these materials must be sent to the 75,563 seats, 21,699 polling stations and 179 local centers for the writing of results disseminated on the entire territory of the DRC, whose extension is 2,345,410 km2. A territory very poor in road infrastructure, to the point that the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) must rely on airplanes and helicopters of the Congolese armed forces and on those made available by the UN.
The population is eagerly waiting for the vote on December 23rd after the failed elections scheduled for December 20, 2016, the deadline for the second and last term of President Joseph Kabila. The Church has committed itself to creating the conditions for voting, in particular with the agreement signed on December 31, 2016 ("New Year's Eve Agreements") that allowed the creation of a provisional government that was to bring the DRC to vote.
Recently, the Congolese National Episcopal Conference (CENCO) has expressed concern about the serious delays in the organization of the vote (see Fides 28/11/2018), while some Bishops have reiterated that the Church does not support any candidate for the presidential elections. This is the case of His Exc. Mgr. Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, Bishop of Kindu, who during a press conference on December 14th stated: "As Bishops we do not propose any candidate. We allow Christians to choose to make their choice in freedom of mind and conscience". Finally, the Bishop of Kindu emphasized that "the elections are a tool to have a democratic alternation to bring about change". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/12/2018)