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News > World

DRC: Authorities Take Security Measures Prior to Elections

  • Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe hold their pre-election agreement at a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 23, 2018.

    Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe hold their pre-election agreement at a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 23, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 December 2018

The Democratic Republic of the Congo will hold elections on Sunday to choose the successor of President Joseph Kabila.

The authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ordered the closure of land borders and police reinforcement to offer security guarantees for the general elections on Sunday.

DRC: Kabila Does not Rule out Return to Politics in 2023

This political event, which has been delayed since 2016 arguing that the violence of rebel groups prevented voter registration in the center of the country, is expected to define the successor of Joseph Kabila, who has been Congo's President since January 2001.

The country's law enforcement will put in place security at polling stations to try to prevent the recurrence of violent outbreaks,  some of which resulted in at least a dozen deaths, in the recent past.

More than 12,000 police will join the military to guard 75,563 voting centers, which are located in 21,699 polling stations all around the country.

This Sunday's elections are expected to allow the first peaceful power transition since the DRC’s independence from Belgium in 1960.

This francophone country, which had two civil wars between 1966 and 2003, has more than 81.34 million inhabitants, 40 million of which are expected to attend the polls.

Due to the tense atmosphere in which the electoral campaign is taking place, the international NGO 'Internet Without Borders' fears an eventual cut in access to the Internet by Congolese authorities.

Such a measure could reduce the number of effective votes because the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) allowed for the implementation of electronic voting machines for the elections.

Although twenty-one candidates will appear on the presidential ballot, only three are considered serious contenders.

Emmanuel Shadary, who is President Kabila's former interior minister and has strong support from government institutions, faces a divided opposition, which agreed last month to back former ExxonMobil manager Martin Fayulu as its candidate, only for Felix Tshisekedi, the president of Congo's largest opposition party, to back out of the deal.

According to a survey conducted in October by the New York University's Congo Research Group, the electors' favorite was Tshisekedi with 36% support, followed by Shadary with 16%, and Fayulu with 8%.

Besides the presidential race, voters will also elect representatives for provincial and national assemblies.

The incoming authorities will have to tackle some urgent tasks. Nearly 13 million inhabitants live in extreme poverty, militia continues to massacre civilians in the east of the country, and the recent Ebola outbreak has become the second deadliest one in the country's history.

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