DRC scrambles to get ready for polls

2011-11-24 19:10
Kinshasa - Four days from elections that some analysts doubt it can pull off on time, the Democratic republic of Congo was rushing on Thursday to overcome the challenges of crumbling infrastructure and a territory two-thirds the size of western Europe.

Monday's presidential and parliamentary polls are only the DRC's second since back-to-back wars from 1996 to 2003, and the scars from those conflicts - together with the country's massive size - mean election officials face a raft of logistical headaches.

The election commission has set itself a Friday deadline to deliver 186 000 ballot boxes and more than 64 million ballot papers to nearly 64 000 polling stations, in a country of 2 345 000 square kilometres - 77 times the size of former colonial ruler Belgium.

Commission chief Daniel Ngoy Mulunda said he is confident his team can make the deadline, with the help of 80 aircraft hired from private companies as well as the combined support of the United Nations, South Africa and Angola.

"The objective is to reach 100% of the voting sites by November 25 at the latest. We think that with the combination of different means of transport and all the systems we've put in place, we'll make that deadline," Mulunda told journalists Wednesday.

But as recently as 10 days ago, Mulunda's top deputy said organisers could need more time.

"If we're not ready, we'll ask for a few days and hold the elections on December 2 or 5," said Jacques Djoli, vice president of the National Independent Election Commission (CENI).

32 024 640 registered voters

The sheer size of the task is daunting.

The DRC has 32 024 640 registered voters, up from 25 million at the last polls, in 2006. CENI has responded by expanding the number of voting stations to 63 865, up from some 55 000 in 2006.

The number of candidates is also a record: 18 835 contesting 500 seats in the national assembly, up from about 9 600.

In Kinshasa alone, there are 5 491 candidates for 51 seats. One of the capital's four constituencies has a 56-page ballot.

There are 11 presidential contenders, down from 33 in 2006.

In a bit of good news, Mulunda announced on Wednesday that all the ballot papers had arrived from South Africa, where they were printed.

But in a country with a crumbling and limited road network, getting them to polling stations is a challenge - not to mention the ballot boxes themselves, which were made in China and, at one metre tall, resemble giant trash bins.

The budget for the entire election cycle - single-round presidential and national assembly votes on Monday, plus local, provincial and senate elections in 2013 - keeps growing, and currently stands at $1.1bn.

Biometric voter cards


Amid the logistical chaos, the CENI has faced accusations of fraud.

A leaked report by Belgian company Zetes, contracted by the government to issue biometric voter cards, said there were hundreds of thousands of "ghost voters" on the register, mainly in strongholds of incumbent president Joseph Kabila.

The Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) - the party of Etienne Tshisekedi, Kabila's top rival for the presidency - also accused the CENI Wednesday of creating "fictitious" polling stations.

"There has been a systematic fraud organised in massive fashion," UDPS secretary general Jacquemin Shabani told journalists, saying more than half the stations don't exist.

The CENI denied the allegation.

"When there's a polling station that's in the wrong place on the map, it's not an attempt to cheat," said Mulunda.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa  |  drc elections
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Travel
 

LOL treadmill fail!

Watch this hilarious clip! We think this man should rather be running outside this summer!

 
 

I love summer.24

Google’s top searches of 2014
10 of the strangest Christmas traditions around the world
2014's best drone videos
7 drinks you need to make this party season

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

15% off LEGO

Save 15% when you buy 2 or more Lego toys. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is time to explore. Some of you will literally go on holiday while others may need to find other outlets to quench your thirst...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.