DR Congo’s voting machines start arriving ahead of December poll

[Reuters Images]
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Deputy Prime Minister on Saturday announced that tablet-like voting machines for the country’s December election had begun arriving, and that all the orders made would be in the country by the end of the month.

“A hundred and eighty containers from South Korea with the machines in them are on the sea,” Vice Prime Minister and Security Minister Henri Mova Sakanyi said in a statement, adding that 15 kits were already in the country.

President Joseph Kabila is due to step down after 17 years in power after his country’s long-delayed vote is held on December 23.

The election was initially scheduled for November 2016, but the electoral authority said it was unable to conduct it due to logistical challenges.

That failure to hold the election meant Kabila stayed on as president, sparking violent protests and clashes across the country.

Should the December poll go on as planned, it will mark the first time the DR Congo witnesses a peaceful transition of power since its independence in 1960.

The electoral commission says the machines will cut costs and speed up the counting of votes in the vast central African country where past elections have been marred by voting irregularities or violence.

Critics say they are much more vulnerable to vote-rigging than paper and ink and could be compromised by the unreliability of Congo’s power supply, especially in remoter parts of its vast, forested territory.

The ruling party is fronting a former minister of interior, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, to replace Kabila as president.

25 candidates will be in the running to replace Kabila, though Felix Tshisekedi, Jean-Pierre Bemba and Vital Kamerhe are seen as the main challengers of Shadary.