Various voting disruptions and irregularities were reported during the general elections held in the DRC on Sunday, December 30. Broken and malfunctioning voting machines and missing electoral rolls delayed voting and led to long lines in several areas, including in Kinshasa, where heavy rainfall forced polling stations to open later than expected on Sunday morning (local time). Polling stations in several areas reportedly remained open past the official 17:00 closing time to allow those still in line to vote. Civilians in some areas where voting had been postponed until March due to prevailing insecurity and an Ebola virus outbreak staged mock elections, including in Beni.
Sporadic election-related violence was reported, though voting took place in most areas without incident. Notably, a police officer shot and killed a civilian over alleged voter fraud in Walungu (South Kivu province); in response, a crowd beat the officer to death. Election-related protests and violence are possible across the DRC over the coming hours and days. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites. Clashes between demonstrators and police cannot be ruled out.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) announced on December 20 that general elections originally scheduled for December 23 were postponed to December 30, notably due to a fire that reportedly destroyed 80 percent of the voting machines in Kinshasa on December 13. On December 26, CENI announced that the elections in Beni, Butembo, and Yumi, had been postponed to March 2019, prompting demonstrations in Beni, Butembo, and Goma on December 27-28.
As a security precaution, Congolese authorities had previously announced that land borders would close for 24 hours on election day and an increased security presence would be deployed throughout major urban centers and at polling stations. Multiple clashes erupted during political events held ahead of the elections, notably in Kalemie, Lubumbashi, Tshikapa, Kindu, and Mbuji-Mayi. At least seven people were killed by security forces over the course of the campaign period.
President Joseph Kabila, whose term ended in 2016 but who has remained in power amid repeated election delays, has endorsed Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as the candidate of the ruling FCC (Front Commun pour le Congo) coalition. Other main candidates include Felix Tshisekedi of the CACH (Cap pour le Changement) opposition coalition party and Martin Fayulu of the Lamuka opposition coalition. The vote is slated to mark the first democratic transition in the country's history should Kabila step down after the vote as planned.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to monitor the political situation, avoid all protests and political demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing sensitive political topics in public.
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