Observers take note of logistical challenges in DRC elections

Friday December 22 2023

Leaders of the Carter Center’s Election Observation team address the press in Kinshasa, DRC following the country’s presidential and general elections on December 22, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


Electoral observers in the ongoing Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) elections say the polls, though peaceful, have been faced with a myriad of logistical challenges that may have affected convenience for voters.

As the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) prepares to publish preliminary results of the General Election here, the African Union observer mission “congratulates Congolese citizens for their commitment and determination to express their civic duty.” 

But the team said that while voting was relatively calm, logistical challenges were reported across the country.

The Ceni encountered major difficulties in deploying electoral material to all 75,000 polling stations on time and this delay severely disrupted the conduct of the Elections, the AU Observer team led by former Madagascar president Hery Rajaonarimampianina told a news conference in Kinshasa.

Read: DR Congo polls open amid conflict in east, delays

The elections, which were scheduled for Wednesday December 20, were extended to December 21 to allow polling stations that did not open on the first day to open on Thursday.


Several other observation missions said similar things in their preliminary reports.

The Synergie des missions d'observation citoyenne des élections (Symocel), for example, estimates that more than half the polling stations opened late (between 1 and 11 hours after the scheduled time for opening) on Wednesday. Symocel also asserts that, according to its estimates, 57 percent of polling stations complied with voting procedures. Finally, Symocel claims that its "observers were attacked, denied access and excluded from counting operations at polling stations”.

According to the 2nd Deputy Chairperson of Ceni Didi Manara, more than 97 percent of polling stations were open and received voters during the two days of voting.

“It's a success story for a country on the continent that is the DRC,” Didi Manara enthused at a briefing in Kinshasa on Friday.

As the ballot count progressed, tension mounted among the parties involved in the election. Former president Joseph Kabila’s Front Commun pour le Congo (Common front for Congo) (FCC) denounced the “chaotic conduct of the elections”.

Read: Kabila family legacy looms large over DRC polls

In a press release, the FCC says it "condemns the Machiavellian stubbornness of the current government, which is leading the country into chaos, paving the way for a crisis with incalculable consequences and tending to wipe out the progress made since 2001”.

The former president's coalition also said it "holds the President [Félix Tshisekedi] solely responsible for this electoral chaos, which he and his associates on the electoral commission wanted and organised”.

Moïse Katumbi's camp is already calling for 'vigilance' adding that citizens must be ready throughout the country "to ensure the defence of the freedom to vote expressed on December 20, 2023”.

In view of the rising tension, the African Union Mission “urges the authorities, political players and all stakeholders to show restraint and create a framework for open and inclusive political dialogue in order to preserve national cohesion and political stability, which are necessary to strengthen peace and development in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said the AU Observer Mission team.