DRC: Opposition denounces Kinshasa polling stations closure

Electoral commission says 20 percent of polling stations in the capital Kinshasa won’t be open for Sunday’s election.

Kinshasa, DRC – The Democratic Republic of Congo‘s electoral commission has said that 20 percent of the polling stations in the capital, Kinshasa will not open for voting on Sunday.

The electoral commission (CENI) told Al Jazeera 1,600 stations out of 7,939 in the city will not open for voting because of a lack of voting machines.

Voters will be directed to other polling stations in the city, CENI said.

Fire destroyed one of the commission’s main warehouses in Kinshasa earlier this month.

CENI said the blaze destroyed 8,000 of 10,368 voting machines due to be used in Kinshasa.

The city is home to about 15 percent of the 46 million registered voters in the country.

The opposition Lamuka coalition said the decision not to open the stations was another tactic by the electoral body to deny voters the chance to exercise their democratic right.

“All this is manoeuvre the electoral commission is doing to try and exclude some Congolese from voting. We want peaceful, democratic and fair elections to be held this Sunday in the whole country,” Rudy Mandio, senior adviser to Lamuka leader Martin Fayulu, told Al Jazeera.

“They are coming every day with new bad surprises. After Beni, Butembo and Yumbi, it’s now 20 percent of the people of Kinshasa who are excluded,” Mandio added.

Meanwhile, in Goma, the provincial headquarters of North Kivu province, protesters unhappy with the postponement of elections in two cities in the province burned tires and blocked roads before security forces used tear gas and live rounds to disperse them.

CENI said voting in the cities of Beni and Butembo will take place in March next year due to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the region.


The outbreak, which was declared in August, is the second deadliest in history and has claimed the lives of more than 320 people.

The commission also delayed the vote in the western city of Yumbi until March following ethnic violence in the area that left at least 100 people dead.

The elections have been repeatedly delayed, leading to deadly street protests.

The vote was first scheduled to take place in 2016 but was postponed to December 23 after CENI said it did not have the resources to hold the polls.

Polls were then delayed by a week to December 30 over the ongoing Ebola outbreak and the lack of voter materials, following a fire at the commission warehouse.

As many as 21 candidates are running to succeed long-time leader Joseph Kabila, who is stepping down after 17 years in power.

DR Congo, a mineral-rich country in central Africa home to more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, has never had a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

INSIDE STORY: Will presidential vote in DRC ever take place? (24:51)

Source: Al Jazeera