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No elections in DR Congo in December without electronic voting machines: INEC

Radio Okapi/AFP - February 13, 2018
The president of  DR Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The president of DR Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) | Enlarge
The president of DR Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced on Tuesday that without the use of contested voting machines, it will not be possible to organize the presidential election as planned on December 23 to choose the successor of President Joseph Kabila.

"Without a voting machine, there will be no elections on December 23, 2018,” Mr. Corneille Nangaa told the AFP, when questioned on the position of the United States which has said it is opposed to the use of a system of electronic voting in the upcoming elections.

"The elections of December 23, 2018 will be done with the voting machines," he said by phone from New York.

On Monday, the United States declared its opposition to an electronic voting system for the triple elections on December 23, as seven members of the Security Council urged President Kabila to announce that he would not be a presidential candidate. "We are deeply concerned by the election commission’s insistence on using an electronic voting system that has never been used in the DRC” for the December presidential, legislative and provincial polls, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said.

“These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system”, Mrs. Haley added.

If we must use paper bulletins, elections would be held in July 2019, Nangaa said. "The elections in the DRC are not a matter of the United States or the Security Council. The INEC wants to make sure its independence is respected" vis-à-vis its domestic and foreign partners.

"It is not enough to say that the voting machines are bad, one must also propose a solution instead, especially how much they are willing put on the table!", said the spokesman of the Congolese government, Lambert Mende.

The cost of voting is estimated at $ 432 million with voting machines and $ 554 million for paper ballots.

It is up to the INEC to “make the decision that suits it. No one has the right to give injunctions to the INEC,” Mr. Mende added.

The DRC is undermined by a crisis aggravated by the continuation in power of President Kabila, whose second term ended on December 20, 2016.

Kinshasa justified the non-holding of elections at the end of 2016 by security problems. Elections had been scheduled for the end of December 2017, before being postponed until 23 December 2018.

The climate is very tense, the opposition has rejected the use of the voting machines and accuses Mr. Kabila of trying to do everything to stay in power.

"We do not want the voting machines," said Vital Kamerhe, leader of the third opposition political force in the National Assembly. "With these machines, there will be no voting booth." When voters choose their candidates on these voting machines, everything will be under the pressure of the military, police and intelligence officers who will be there during this process."

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