Observers condemn irregularities in DRC vote count

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s November elections were marred by irregularities, raising questions over the legitimacy of the results, electoral observers charged on Sunday.

The mission comprising four non-government groups which deployed 2 700 observers during the tallying of votes following November 28’s ballot said in a report that the electoral process was opaque and incomplete, and included some cases of forgery of results.

The disputed legislative polls in Africa’s second largest country were held on the same day as the presidential election, which saw President Joseph Kabila fight off rigging accusations to eventually secure a second term.

Kabila’s opponent Etienne Tshisekedi has rejected the results and pronounced himself president-elect.

Besides the opposition’s outcry, the international community has denounced the elections as flawed.

The country’s electoral commission said that the release of full legislative vote results that had been due on January 13 has now been postponed until January 26.

No oversight
The mission of observers noted that in a “number of constituencies”, the tally was not signed off by party representatives and candidates or simply handed over to candidates, a clear violation of electoral law.

“In several constituencies, the [counting] process began without witnesses and observers. And when they were admitted, they did not stay to the end of the process ... They were not allowed to verify if the data conformed with the published results,” it said.

Transmission of results from counting centres to compilation centres also had to be “authorised by the electoral commission and in particular, its president”, said the mission.

“This leads one to wonder if there is censorship by the electoral commission’s office which can decide who can be declared elected and who cannot,” said the mission.

“There is a question-mark over the legitimacy of the results,” it added.

Foreign experts from two US groups have since January 5 been working with Congolese electoral officials on the legislative ballot’s counting process in a bid to enhance the results’ credibility and assuage fears of civil unrest.—AFP

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