DRC elec­toral com­mis­sion seeks vote de­lay

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

KIN­SHASA — The Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo’s elec­toral com­mis­sion on Satur­day said it would seek to de­lay call­ing vot­ers to the polls un­til late 2017, though the op­po­si­tion swiftly re­jected the pro­posal.

The an­nounce­ment came amid op­po­si­tion fears that Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila will not step down when his term ex­pires in De­cem­ber.

“Vot­ers will be called to the polls for the pres­i­den­tial and provin­cial and na­tional leg­isla­tive elec­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Novem­ber 2017,” elec­toral com­mis­sion chief Corneile Naanga said.

“That is when the can­di­da­cies will be sub­mit­ted,” Naanga said af­ter mak­ing the pro­posal be­fore par­tic­i­pants in a so-called na­tional di­a­logue aimed at end­ing a tense po­lit­i­cal stand­off in the vast, re­source-rich na­tion.

Naanga told par­tic­i­pants in the di­a­logue that the com­mis­sion would re­quire “504 days start­ing from July 31, 2017,” to deal with a string of chal­lenges in its bid to or­gan­ise the pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive votes.

Elec­toral author­i­ties would need time, Naanga said, to dis­trib­ute vot­ing ma­te­rial and to de­ploy the staff to 136 000 vot­ing of­fices.

The op­po­si­tion how­ever swiftly hit back, with spokesper­son Jean Lu­cien Bussa say­ing the elec­toral com­mis­sion “must heed the in­struc­tions de­liv­ered by (par­tic­i­pants in) the di­a­logue, and not do what it wants”.

Naanga how­ever said the elec­toral com­mis­sion’s job was to an­nounce the elec­toral cal­en­dar.

Satur­day’s state­ment, Naanga said, was by no means meant to be a de­ci­sion, but rather was to act as a “guide­line”.

A wave of deadly clashes pit­ting po­lice against demon­stra­tors hit the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo in late Septem­ber, as the op­po­si­tion de­manded Ka­bila’s res­ig­na­tion.

The US Trea­sury has since placed two of Ka­bila’s top al­lies on its sanc­tions black­list, ty­ing both to ris­ing po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. — AFP

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