On Friday, October 26, thousands of demonstrators marched through Kinshasa and other major cities to protest the planned use of electronic voting machines in the December 23 election. Demonstrations took place in Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu, and Bunia amid a heavy police presence; a planned protest in Lubumbashi was canceled after police declared their intent to prevent such demonstrations from taking place.
Similar demonstrations are possible in major cities over the coming days and weeks, and particularly over the weekend of October 27-28 - when a shipment of electronic voting machines is expected to arrive in the country. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near protest sites. Associated clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.
General elections are scheduled to take place in the DRC on December 23. President Joseph Kabila has announced he will not run in the presidential election and has come out in support of his political ally, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Kabila had refused to step down after his term expired in December 2016.
Opposition supporters and civil society activists accuse the government of excluding key opposition candidates, such as Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba, from the presidential elections. They also denounce inconsistencies in the electoral register, including 6 million registered voters whose fingerprints have not been digitally recorded, casting doubts on the government's ability to carry out transparent elections. Finally, the use of the voting machines in these elections is highly contested due to the alleged risk of fraud.
Individuals in DRC are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Copyright and Disclaimer