Around fifteen embassies in Kinshasa called on Saturday for “restraint” after the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), described as a “sham” by the opposition which is already planning a demonstration while the first results are just beginning to emerge. to fall.
“As the vote count continues, we call on all stakeholders […] to continue to show restraint,” wrote the embassies of 12 European countries and that of Canada in a joint statement. That of the United States did the same on Friday evening.
Nearly 44 million voters, out of approximately 100 million inhabitants of this immense Central African country, were called to elect their president, their national and provincial deputies and their municipal councilors on Wednesday.
The outgoing head of state, Félix Tshisekedi, is seeking a second term against 18 other candidates, including several opposition heavyweights who denounced on Wednesday the “chaos” surrounding the vote.
Faced with multiple logistical problems, the vote was extended by the electoral commission (Céni). Officially, it has ended since Thursday evening but, according to local sources, it has continued in remote areas of several provinces.
For example, in the Lubero territory, in North Kivu (east), electoral materials arrived on Saturday by helicopter in the village of Mabuo, to then be transported on foot to four other localities (Engobo, Lenda, Bududia, Isange ), Macaire Kambau Sivikunula, the head of the Bapere sector, which brings together these localities, told AFP.
Due to a “special exemption” from the Ceni, “the vote will take place tomorrow (Sunday) on these five sites”, he added.
The non-holding of the vote on December 20, “interpreted as a plot”, had “aroused great tension” among the population, who “threatened to kill me with my family and the Céni agents who are staying with me”, Mr. Kambau explained.
Among Félix Tshisekedi’s opponents are Moïse Katumbi, a former governor of the mining region of Katanga (southeast), Martin Fayulu, who claims victory was stolen from him in the 2018 election, and Denis Mukwege, Nobel Prize winner of Peace for its action with women victims of war rape.
In a letter made public on Saturday, five opposition candidates, including MM. Fayulu and Mukwege inform the governor of Kinshasa of their intention to organize a march next Wednesday. “We will protest against the irregularities observed during the voting operations,” they write, describing the vote as a “sham election.”
Five other opposition candidates, including Moïse Katumbi, called for “the immediate cancellation of these chaotic elections marred by massive fraud”.
Among the observation missions, that of the African Union estimated that the elections had “taken place in a relatively calm atmosphere with major logistical challenges”.
The American NGO Carter Center highlighted “serious irregularities” in some offices. On Saturday, the Citizen View mission said it had noted in 21% of the offices observed by its teams that “entry had been refused to certain voters without a legal basis”.
The authorities and the Céni assure for their part that the vote was not “chaotic”.
“The challenge of holding elections on December 20 was met, despite the difficulties inherent in a complex process,” government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya stressed on X.
“If some people see a glass half empty, we see a glass three-quarters full,” Denis Kadima, the president of the Céni, declared Friday evening, just before the announcement of the very first results.
The Ceni began with Congolese in the diaspora, who voted in five test countries. Given the number of registered participants, which represents 0.03% of the total, these results are not significant. But the score of some 80% of the votes achieved by Félix Tshisekedi was nevertheless celebrated in certain regions which he favored.
The further release of the results was expected for Saturday but was postponed to Sunday.
From its operational center, the Ceni announced in the evening the creation of a “commission of inquiry” into “acts of violence, vandalism and sabotage perpetrated by certain ill-intentioned candidates”. She assures that “appropriate measures will be taken against its agents and/or candidates who are guilty of or complicit in these acts”.