DR Congo opposition protesters march against use of electronic voting machines

[AP Photos]

Tension simmered in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, as opposition protesters took to the streets on Friday to show their disapproval of the electronic voting machines that will be used in the December presidential elections.

Police were heavily deployed across the city to deal with the protesters who defiantly marched shouting “We will fight to the death”, and “Voting machine equals cheating machine” slogans.

The electronic voting machines began arriving in the country last week, with the rest of the kits expected to be in the country by next month.

The DR Congo presidential election was initially scheduled for November 2016, but failed to go on as the electoral body said it was unable to conduct the vote due to logistical challenges.

The protesters who took to the streets on Thursday are said to be allied to Former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba and regional baron Moise Katumbi, who are both barred from running in the December poll.

Bemba asked people to rally in droves to protest against “the greatest electoral fraud ever with electronic machines that have not been tested anywhere in the world.”

Katumbi meanwhile in a video exhorted his supporters to “stage a massive march to say no to the electronic machines and no to corruption.”

However the main opposition The Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, whose leader Felix Tshisekedi is running for president, is not taking part in the march.

The opposition alleges that the voting kits will be used to steal the election slated for 23 December.

President Joseph Kabila last month promised at the United Nations the country would hold a credible ballot. But the months before he said he would step aside were marred by brutally repressed protests.

Critics worry Kabila is trying to make sure his favoured successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister, faces no serious challenger.

Should the vote go on as planned, this will be the first time the DR Congo witnesses a peaceful transfer of power since its independence from Belgium in 1960.