UN hopes delayed DR Congo presidential election goes on smoothly

The United Nations on Saturday said it hoped the Democratic republic of Congo’s presidential election will be held to allow Congolese people to express themselves freely.

The long-delayed vote was scheduled for December 23, but the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) sanctioned a postponement, saying a warehouse fire earlier this month had destroyed voting materials.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their hope that this delay will permit the creation of favorable conditions for the Congolese people to express themselves freely” on December 30, the 15-member Council said in a statement.

It also “called on all parties to engage peacefully and constructively in the electoral process,” to ensure “a transfer of power in accordance with the Congolese Constitution and the 31 December 2016 Agreement.”

The DR Congo election was initially scheduled for November 2016, but CENI said it was not in a position to hold the vote due to logistical challenges.

The country’s opposition accused President Joseph Kabila of frustrating the electoral authority in order to cling on to power, accusations he denied.

With international pressure mounting, the DR Congo government announced earlier this year that the vote would be held on December 23, with Kabila later announcing that he would respect the constitution and not seek a third term.

Should the elections go on as planned, this will be the country’s first peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960.