Violence, delays mar DR Congo elections
Yet another delay of the DR Congo elections has raised questions over the vote’s credibility, sparking violent protests in parts of the country already roiled by conflict and an ongoing Ebola outbreak.
Congo’s long march to Sunday’s polls took a turn for the worst on Wednesday when the country’s electoral commission announced that it would be delaying the vote in three opposition strongholds due to “the persistence of the Ebola disease” and “the threat of terrorism.”
Sunday would have marked the country’s first ever democratic transfer of power, but the commission’s move has all but guaranteed contested results.
Voters in Beni, Butembo and Yumbi will not be able to cast ballots until March, two months after the presidential election results are expected to be announced on January 15.
Still after more than two years of delays — the last announced just three days before the originally scheduled December 23 vote — an election, however flawed, could offer a glimmer of hope in sub-Saharan Africa’s resource-rich giant.
Conflict and unrest ruled Congo long before its independence from Belgium in 1960.
And as a battle against the world’s second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history continues, containment is hampered by ongoing violence.
For nearly 18 years, Congo’s other constant has been President Joseph Kabila, who came to power amid crisis in 2001 at the age of 29 following the assassination of his father.
While Kabila pacified the country’s west, especially around the capital of Kinshasa, his legacy for the vast majority of Congolese will be defined by corruption and conflict, with millions displaced by continued fighting and most living in extreme poverty.
Six out of seven Congolese live on less than US $1.25 a day.
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