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DRC bans campaigns in capital four days to polls

Written by: George Kalisa
Thursday, December 20th, 2018, 7:44
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Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have indefinitely banned Presidential campaigns in the capital Kinshasa barely four days to the polls, citing reports of premeditated violence on the streets.

 

The unfavourable incidents including blocking of key opposition leaders to hold rallies, murders and use of excessive power by security operatives that have characterized the Presidential campaigns, especially in the capital Kinshasa, Lubumbashi  and pockets of the eastern region cast doubt on whether Africa’s vast nation will hold free and fair election on Sunday.

 

Authorities in Kinshasa on Wednesday banned Presidential campaigns in the capital where the Lamuka coalition Presidential candidate and ex-oil tycoon Martin Fayulu was due to hold a rally.

 

"The provincial government of Kinshasa, on security grounds, has decided to suspend election campaign activities on all of the territory of the capital from today," said Andre Kimbuta, the Governor of Kinshasa in a statement.

 

"All presidential candidates, without exception," it added.   

 

Kimbuta said his office had information that presidential camps had plotted violent actions in the city.

 

"Information at our disposal confirms that in all the political camps of the main presidential candidates, extremists are prepared and are preparing for confrontations in the streets of the city of Kinshasa during election campaigning".

 

A few days before a mysteries fire destroyed about 8,000 biometric election machines in the CENI depot. The ruling party the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and the opposition parties pointed a blaming finger at each other over the incident.

The opposition has already sent signals that ruling party was rigging the election by opting to use biometric machines for the first time in the country. Electronic machines have been used before in Belgium, India, Namibia, Brazil and Venezuela.

 

But, the point of contention is that the particular device which the opposition has contested has not been tested anywhere before. And, the opposition says the machines may favour incumbent President Joseph Kabila’s handpicked candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Secondly, there is doubt in the opposition about the competence of the polling officers in using the machines.  

                              Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary

Previous polls were marred by election rigging and post-election violence.

 

Meanwhile, thousands of Congolese started entering neigbouring Uganda citing fear of looming violence.  

    

Some 46 million eligible voters will cast their votes for 34,900 candidates for 500 national and 715 Provincial seats.

 

There are 21 candidates in the presidential race though the majority is overshadowed by heavy-weight politicians, Martin Fayulu, Tshisekendi and Kabila’s blu-eyed boy Ramazani Shadary. CENI designated 21,000 polling stations across the huge country with the poorest road network with barely 3,400 kilometres of tarmacked roads.

 

Currently, dozens of militia groups, especially the Allied Defense Forces (ADF) have been fighting in areas near Beni that has suffered the second biggest Ebola outbreak after West Africa according to the World Health Organisation.

 

President Kabila,47, who allegedly delayed the elections after his term ended has been the Congolese President since 2001. The Constitution prohibits him from seeking a third term but does not stop him from resurfacing after the next five-year term he will be out of active politics.

 

His delay to pronounce his stand on whether he would stand or step down as President had attracted scathing criticism from Western powers, especially the US, Human Rights watchdogs and insurmountable pressure from the Catholic Church in DRC.

 

It is against this backdrop that the DRC general election has attracted global attention and whether the war ravaged central African nation can hold a free and fair election is still in balance according to many observers in the region.    

 

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