After several delays, the people of DRC finally voted to elect their new President on Sunday. While more than 40 million voters were expected to cast the votes, delays at several polling stations due to lack of voting materials and voter lists and failing electronic voting machines left many frustrated.
The opposition leaders have accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of deliberately blocking voters from taking part in an election, reported Reuters.
The voting was mostly peaceful across the Democratic Republic of Congo, but, there were some incidents of violence. A young man was shot dead by a police officer at a polling station in South Kivu province in eastern Congo, after a dispute over alleged voting fraud. Furious over the boy’s death, the surrounding crowd beat the police officer to death. The electoral commission (CENI) also reported the death of an election official in the altercation.
Notably, voting in three areas, Beni and Butembo in the east and Yumbi in the west, were postponed last week over rebel activity, ethnic clashes, and the Ebola outbreak. Voting in these areas will be held in March 2019. So, this means the 1.2 million votes from these opposition strongholds will not count towards the presidential contest.
To protest against the voting delay, residents in eastern Congo staged a mock presidential election on Sunday to show the authorities a decision to postpone the vote there due to health fears was unfounded.
The vote is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila who has been in office since 2001. This will be the vast central African country’s first ever democratic transition in the last 18 years.
The vote counting is expected to start next week. The presidential results are expected to be announced on January 15 and a new president will be sworn in three days later.