Congo electoral commission registers 46 million voters

The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has concluded the registration of 46 million voters for a long-delayed election scheduled for the end of December.

Repeated delays in the conduct of the election has raised tensions across the country, triggering street protests and encouraging armed rebellions, especially since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016.

Dozens have been killed by security forces at protests in the capital Kinshasa, including several in demonstrations organised by the Roman Catholic Church since the end of last year. Protesters have demanded that the election go ahead.

The head of the electoral commission, Corneille Nangaa, said a total of 46,021,454 voters had been registered, 12 percent more than expected.

Only the Congolese diaspora was left, and registration for them would start in July, he said.

“CENI is working to ensure the elections happen on December 23,” Nangaa said.

Mr. Kabila, who has been in power since his father was shot dead in office in 2001, denies clinging to power and has blamed the election delay on problems registering voters in the country.

Completing registration is a major step towards the election going ahead, although it is unclear to what extent this will soothe tensions.

Mr. Kabila’s opponents suspect him of seeking a referendum to change Congo’s constitution to enable him to run for more than two terms.