Mounting nervousness and a flurry of difficulties are amplifying concerns just a week before the December 20 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). Eric Nsenga, the national coordinator of the ECC observer mission—a union representing 62 Protestant denominations in the country—raises alarms about the looming fragility in the electoral context.
Nsenga voices apprehensions stemming from past frustrations in the 2018 elections and existing challenges for the upcoming 2023 elections. He criticizes the lack of consideration by the political elite regarding these concerns.
The opposition, including major presidential candidates, has urged heightened vigilance, alleging government influence over the electoral commission and the Constitutional Court—the final arbitrator of electoral disputes.
Notably, worries persist about the electoral roll, with opposition figures emphasizing the necessity of an audit. Martin Fayulu, an opposition politician, claims the presence of 10 million fictitious names on the roll and calls for action to prevent what he perceives as an electoral farce.
Additionally, concerns loom over logistical hurdles in organizing elections in a vast country with limited infrastructure. The struggle to distribute voting material due to inadequate infrastructure and ongoing issues with the electoral roll compounds the challenges faced by the Electoral Commission (CENI).
Notably, the European Union canceled its election observation mission due to permit issues related to satellite equipment use, further raising concerns about the electoral process’s transparency.
Eric Nsenga emphasizes the unaddressed uncertainties with only a week left until the election. He highlights issues such as power outages, inadequacies in electoral mapping, and concerns about voter cards printed on low-quality paper.
Furthermore, he expresses apprehension about potential disputes arising from the large number of candidates across various election tiers, potentially overwhelming institutions and legal processes.
In a bid to address logistical challenges, reports emerged that the CENI sought assistance from the United Nations mission in the nation (MONUSCO) to expedite the dispatch of voting materials, further indicating the significant hurdles facing the electoral process in DR Congo.