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DRC elections: Don’t deprive Congolese of their fundamental human right

2019-01-05 16:46

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition leaders are urging the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure the decision made by Congolese voters in the December 30 poll is respected as a way of fostering democracy in the region.

The co-spokesperson for the opposition coalition Lamuka, Olivier Kamitatu Etsu, said the people of Congo have made their statement known through the ballot and that no single individual should deprive them of their fundamental human right.

The National Independent Electoral Commission (Ceni) is expected to delay the announcement of the provisional results today, but the Catholic council of bishop’s conference, known as Cenco, which deployed 40 000 monitors, has announced that the winner of the election is known.

Cenco secretary-general Donatien Nshole told reporters at a media briefing on Thursday that data collected from polling stations showed that “the figures in its possession from polling stations voter tallies reveal the choice of one candidate as president of the republic”.

Nshole called on Ceni to be responsible and publish the results that reflect the true and correct position made by the Congolese voters. Under Congo electoral laws, only Ceni is permitted to announce the winner of a presidential election.

“We call on the Ceni to publish, with all responsibility, the results of the election that respect truth and justice,” he said.

The position of Cenco is backed by positions taken earlier by international bodies that include the African Union (AU), the US State Department and the European Union (EU).

But an official in President Joseph Kabila’s government, Kikaya Bin Karubi, has accused the church leaders of breaching constitutional and electoral laws.

Karubi, an adviser for diplomacy to Kabila, told journalists that the council of bishops was attempting to provoke a “popular revolt”.

Chairperson for the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat warned parties in the Congolese election to respect the outcome of the poll, stating that they expected the results published by Ceni to be “in line with the vote” of the people.

The EU echoed the AU’s position.

“The EU joins calls from the AU election monitoring mission and the AU commission chairperson, among others, to ensure the results conform with the Congolese people’s vote,” the EU said.

“Political actors have a duty to contribute to the success of this transition in a spirit of reconciliation and peace.”

The US State Department urged Ceni to be transparent and accountable to the people of the DRC.

“We strongly urge the Ceni to ensure that votes are counted in a transparent and open manner, with observers present, and that the results reported by Ceni are accurate,” State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said.

“Those who undermine the democratic process threaten the peace, security or stability of the DRC, or [who] benefit from corruption may find themselves not welcome in and cut off from the US financial system.”

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he was dispatching military personnel to African countries near Congo citing the possibility of post-election violence.

According to a letter to the US Congress, Trump stated that the first members of this US contingent arrived in Libreville, Gabon, on January 2, to be “in position to support the security of US citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa.”

Trump said additional forces may be deployed to Gabon, the DRC, or the Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, if necessary, with the first batch totalling 80 troops.

Meanwhile, Lamuka co-spokesperson Kamitatu said the tallies collected from nearly all polling stations by Lamuka monitors clearly showed it was impossible that outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s anointed successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary would win the election.

“We understand the position of SADC because we are part of the body, but we agree with all the observers that truth and justice must prevail for the people of Congo.

“SADC, therefore, must defend the truth and the democracy of Congo. It is important that SADC respects the position of the Congolese people in these elections,” he said.

Kamitatu accused Kabila of attempting to flip the results of the election in favour of the ruling party candidate with the endorsement of SADC.

“Kabila is a dictator. He wants to remain in power and that’s why he wants a Shadary win,” he said.

A SADC official said they would wait for those responsible for the elections to make the announcement and urge those who feel otherwise to follow the laid down procedure of airing their grievances.

Delivering his summary of the election, the SADC head of the observer mission to DRC, Joseph Malanji, said the elections were relatively well managed and generally peaceful save for minor hiccups.

Lamuka coalition leader Felix Fayulu debunked the SADC position saying the poll was deliberately disorganised to favour the ruling party candidate. However, their ruling party’s attempt to disadvantage Congolese had backfired.

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January 20 2019