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Chaos Surrounds DR Congo Presidential Polls

The Democratic Republic of Congo witnessed initial results from a presidential poll as chaos surrounded the election process that spanned several days. Despite the shambolic conditions, authorities deemed the elections successful.

In a groundbreaking move, Congolese citizens residing abroad were able to cast their votes in five test countries – Belgium, Canada, France, South Africa, and the United States. Approximately 13,000 voters participated in these countries, contributing to the overall 44 million registered voters.

Incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi reportedly secured around 80% of the diaspora vote, according to initial announcements by the electoral commission (Céni). These results, though a small fraction of the total votes cast, indicated a provisional lead for President Tshisekedi as he seeks a second term.

The DRC, known for its mineral-rich resources, conducted four simultaneous polls on Wednesday, aiming to elect the president, lawmakers for national and provincial assemblies, and local councilors. However, the process was marred by massive delays and bureaucratic chaos, with some polling booths unable to open.

Despite the electoral commission’s statement that no polling station was authorized to open on Friday, voting continued in certain areas, particularly in remote regions. Officials aimed to conclude the voting by Friday afternoon.

Ceni’s Didi Manara stated that “at least 97 percent” of the roughly 75,000 polling stations in the DRC had been able to open, calling it a “miracle” considering the vast size of the country.

The Carter Center, which observed the elections, reported “serious irregularities” at 21 out of 109 polling stations it visited. However, the group acknowledged that the ballot proceeded relatively well in the remaining 88 stations.

As provisional results for the DRC’s 26 provinces are set to be announced on Saturday, concerns loom over potential tensions when the results are revealed. With around 44 million registered voters and over 100,000 candidates running for various positions, President Tshisekedi is seen as the front-runner in the first-past-the-vote presidential race, facing a divided opposition.

Opposition candidates, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege, business magnate Moise Katumbi, and former oil executive Martin Fayulu, have criticized the election’s disarray, raising concerns about possible electoral fraud.

The United States has reiterated its call for transparent and fair elections, pledging to call out irregularities. The situation remains tense as the DRC, a country with a history of authoritarian rule and conflict, awaits the final results.

Source: AfricaNews

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