AFRICA/DR CONGO - Tensions awaiting the results of the vote. Bishops' appeal to remain calm

Wednesday, 2 January 2019 elections  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Congolese let us remain vigilant": this is the appeal launched by the Lay Coordination Committee (CLC), while the counting of the electoral ballots of the general elections held in much of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on December 30th continues. The CLC is the Catholic organization that promoted the three demonstrations held in 2018 to demand the removal from power of outgoing President Joseph Kabila. "The simple change in continuity will not be tolerated", the CLC statement said, alluding to an eventual proclamation of the victory as Head of State for the candidate of Kabila’s party, former Minister of the Interior, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
The fears of the opposition about fraud are accentuated by the decision of the authorities of Kinshasa to suspend indefinitely Internet connections and the sending of SMS messages. The Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) announced the proclamation of the results for 6 January.
The Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) has appealed for calm and claimed to have deployed some 40,000 election observers. In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, CENCO claims to have collected data on "a significant sample of polling stations across the country, 22.32%". According to the statement "2853 seats were open at 6 am. However, 830 seats were not yet open for the following reasons: organizational delays, long opening procedures, malfunctioning of the voting machine, etc".
The elections, scheduled for December 23, have been postponed for a week, due to organizational dysfunction made worse by the destruction of more than 8,000 election machines in a deposit in the capital, Kinshasa.
CENI has also decided to postpone the vote to March in three places Beni, Butembo and Yumbi, either because of the Ebola epidemic or because of the serious conditions of insecurity. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/1/2019)