Congolese elections “marked by irregularities, oppression and violence”

Last week’s Congolese elections were marked by large-scale irregularities, voters’ oppression and violence. That’s what Human Rights Watch says. The human rights organization calls on the Congolese Election Commission to announce the correct election results.

Democratic Republic of the Congo held presidential elections on 30 December, but according to Human Rights Watch more than one million Congolese could not vote. This is partly because the elections in three regions where the opposition is traditionally strong have been postponed to March, but also because more than 1,000 polling stations in the capital Kinshasa were closed at the last moment due to technical problems.

Other agencies then opened too late, and people with disabilities, the elderly and illiterates encountered problems because they worked with electronic voting computers for the first time.

In other regions Congolese people were forced to vote for regime candidate Emmanuel Ramazini Shadary. This was the case, for example, in Mutongo in North Kivu, where soldiers and armed groups were used to blackmail voters, according to witnesses.

The human rights organization also criticizes the announcement of the results. According to the Congolese church, opposition candidate Martin Fayulu is the obvious winner, but the election committee is delaying the release of the official result. There is a fear that the electoral commission – officially independent but strongly influenced by the regime of current President Joseph Kabila – will cheat with the result, or that Kabila and co to the Constitutional Court – which is loyal to the regime – will take steps to invalidate the result. The Congolese government has already shut down the internet earlier this week to avoid photos of results on social media and to be circulated.

Human Rights Watch urges the authorities to quickly announce the correct result.

“Congolese voters have shown that they were determined to participate in the democratic process, even though there were a whole series of obstacles on election day,” says Africa’s Ida Sawyer. “The authorities must immediately restore all communication, allow independent media to do their work and ensure that the counting of votes is done in a credible and transparent manner.”

Normally the election committee would announce the results tomorrow/Sunday, but it seems that will not happen. Officially it sounds like there are not enough results counted yet.

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