DR Congo election panel ‘may postpone vote for a week’


DRC’s electoral supervisors may order a week-long postponement to presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Sunday, a senior official told AFP.

The Independent National Election Commission (CENI) is considering the move after a warehouse blaze destroyed most of the voting machines needed for the capital Kinshasa, the source said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A possible 7 day extension is being discussed, said the official, who is with CENI.

The formal decision may be announced by CENI on Thursday, the source disclosed.

The elections have been a huge challenge for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The nation has never known a peaceful transition of power since it attained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Head of State Joseph Kabila, is scheduled to step down after being in power for nearly 18 years since he took over from his late father who was assassinated.

Kabila should have stepped down as president at the end of 2016 when he reached a two-term limit but elections have been twice postponed since then. He was able to stay in office thanks to a caretaker clause under the constitution, but at the cost of protests that were bloodily repressed.

Close to 80 percent of 10,000 electronic voting machines needed to stage the election in Kinshasa were destroyed in a warehouse fire on December 13.

The blaze was a “major blow,” the CENI official said.

“The fire consumed materials destined for 19 of Kinshasa’s 24 districts,” Corneille Nangaa, head of CENI, told AFP at the time.

Efforts are being made to bring in voting machines from other parts of the country and to order replacement machines from the South Korean manufacturer, the CENI source said on Wednesday.

CENI would act independently in its decision on whether to postpone or not “we are not going to ask for anyone’s opinion, even that of the head of state,” the source insisted.

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