photo by jon nicholson

feature story - Full Transparency Paramount During Congo Post-Electoral Period

january 11th, 2019

Note: This blog was originally published by The Enough Project.

The coming days will prove critical for the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), as the country navigates the post-electoral process of a hotly contested presidential race. The United States, European Union, United Nations, African Union, and Southern African Development Community (SADC) should press for full transparency and a climate of non-violence during the current period of results review – and be prepared to enact pressures in the form of sanctions designations in the event that these conditions are not met.

On December 30, citizens in Congo went to the polls for a historic electoral cycle, including presidential, legislative, and local contests. The electoral process as a whole has been dominated by lack of transparency, barriers to opposition participation, and allegations of corruption. On Election Day itself, observers, including the Catholic Church, reported widespread irregularities and technical failures at polling areas. Internet and SMS services were suspended directly after Election Day, and remain restricted.

On January 10, the Independent National Electoral Commission (known by its French acronym, CENI) released provisional results declaring opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi as the victor, with 38.5% of votes. The CENI stated that opposition candidate Martin Fayulu obtained 34.7% of the votes, while Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the candidate backed by current President Joseph Kabila’s regime, obtained 23.8% of the votes.

In a statement on January 10, the Comité Permanent de la Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO), stated that the CENI’s provisional results are not consistent with the results recorded by their election observers. CENCO organized the largest citizen observer mission on Election Day, claiming to have deployed approximately 40,000 observers nationwide. Candidate Martin Fayulu has also issued statements strongly contesting the CENI’s results, going as far as to characterize the provisional vote tally as an attempted coup.

According to Congolese electoral law, the Constitutional Court must validate the CENI’s provisional results. Candidates also have the right to officially contest the CENI’s provisional results with the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court has undergone a series of reforms in recent months, and some analysts express concerns that the institution is biased in favor of the current regime. ...

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