DRC elec­toral com­mis­sion says vote should be de­layed

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/worldwide -

Kinshasa — Voter reg­is­tra­tion for Congo’s Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will not be com­pleted un­til next year, the elec­toral com­mis­sion pres­i­dent said on Satur­day, sug­gest­ing that the vote should be de­layed.

In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Corneille Nan­gaa said a voter reg­is­ter can­not be ready un­til at least July 2017 be­cause of lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lems in regis­ter­ing more than 30 mil­lion vot­ers, and be­cause of a lack of funds.

The elec­toral com­mis­sion started the reg­is­tra­tion process in Congo’s north­west on July 31.

The op­po­si­tion has ex­pressed con­cern that Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila would de­lay the Novem­ber 27 elec­tions in or­der to re­main in power be­yond his man­date, which ends in De­cem­ber.

The con­sti­tu­tional court in May said that the pres­i­dent should re­main in of­fice un­til a new leader is elected. Ka­bila has not spo­ken out about his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture.

“The elec­toral com­mis­sion does not in­tend to be in vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion and took ac­tion by launch­ing a re­vi­sion of the elec­toral roll,” said Nan­gaa.

The de­lay is likely to cause fur­ther ten­sions with op­po­si­tion par­ties, which have been call­ing for on-time, free and fair elec­tions.

Jean-Bap­tiste Bo­manza, the deputy co­or­di­na­tor of a coali­tion of op­po­si­tion par­ties, called for the pub­li­ca­tion of an elec­toral cal­en­dar that “re­spects the con­sti­tu­tional dead­line.”

An African Union-ap­pointed me­di­a­tor, Edem Kodjo, said that di­a­logue would be­gin tomorrow on a new elec­toral time­line. The op­po­si­tion par­ties put forth re­quire­ments for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in a na­tional di­a­logue on elec­tions, in­clud­ing the re­lease of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

Congo’s min­is­ter of jus­tice on Fri­day par­doned 24 peo­ple whom the op­po­si­tion con­sid­ered po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

Since Congo won in­de­pen­dence from Bel­gium in 1960, there has never been a peace­ful, demo­cratic tran­si­tion of power.

Ka­bila took over af­ter his fa­ther was shot by a body­guard, and was then elected pres­i­dent in 2006 and again in 2011.

Mean­while, a mil­i­tary court in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo has be­gun the trial of 215 mem­bers of an armed group ac­cused of killing hun­dreds of civil­ians in and around Beni town in the coun­try’s north­east.

Eighty ac­cused mem­bers of the Al­lied Demo­cratic Forces (ADF) from Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tan­za­nia and Su­dan, were present in court on Satur­day in Beni, North Kivu prov­ince, where they face charges of mas­sacring civil­ians, pros­e­cu­tor Kumbo Ngoma told the DPA news agency.

The re­main­ing sus­pects will be brought from pris­ons else­where in the coun­try to face trial.

Six sus­pects who took the stand on Satur­day were ac­cused of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the killing of 51 peo­ple with ma­chetes near Beni town last week­end.

Ap­pear­ing at the pub­lic hear­ing in blue and yel­low prison shirts, the six were charged with “par­tic­i­pa­tion in an in­sur­rec­tional move­ment, crimes against hu­man­ity for mur­der and ter­ror­ism,” said Colonel Jean-Paulin Esosa, who pre­sides over the mil­i­tary court. — AFP

Ge­tachew Reda

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