Poll results delayed
Publish date: 07 January 2019
Issue Number: 805
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
The long-awaited announcement of the results of last month's DRC presidential election which were expected yesterday will only be made this week. ‘We are making progress, but we do not have everything yet,’ said electoral commission head Corneille Nangaa in a report on the News24 site. However, the Catholic Council of Bishop’s Conference (Cenco) which deployed 40 000 monitors says the winner of the election is known. City Press reports that Cenco secretary-general Donatien Nshole said data collected from polling stations showed that ‘the figures in its possession from polling stations voter tallies reveal the choice of one candidate as president of the republic’. Presidential spokesperson Kikaya Bin Karubi has accused the church leaders of breaching constitutional and electoral laws. Karubi told journalists that the council of bishops was attempting to provoke a ‘popular revolt’. The chairperson for the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat has warned all parties to respect the outcome of the poll. Regional monitors from SADC and the AU have described last Sunday's election as ‘reasonably well-managed’. However, the Roman Catholic Church's observer team reported more than 100 cases of election monitors being denied access to polling stations. It added that around 20% of polling stations opened late, and there were reports of polling stations being moved at the last minute.
The authorities have confirmed that they cut the DRC’s Internet services to avert a ‘popular uprising’ as tensions rise pending the results of the fractious poll. The opposition accused authorities of cutting the Internet a week ago to thwart activism, while leading Western powers called on the troubled central African nation’s government to quickly restore web access. The long-delayed vote was barely completed on Sunday when the three main candidates – President Joseph Kabila’s hand-picked successor and two opposition leaders – each claimed that early counts showed them winning. A Mail & Guardian Online report notes that Karubi said the national security council had decided it was ‘imperative’ to shut down the Internet to allow the electoral commission to finish counting and compiling votes. ‘There are people who have indoctrinated the public with false numbers about this election. This has laid the groundwork for a popular uprising,’ he said. The authorities also confirmed that they pulled accreditation for Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent Florence Morice. A report on The Citizen site notes that Lambert Mende, another government spokesperson, accused Morice of violating electoral law and ‘the code of good conduct for foreign journalists covering the elections’. Accusing the station of stirring controversy, he said ‘RFI’s broadcasts have been cut off in all of Congo’s cities.’ ‘We are not going to let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results,’ Mende said. RFI, a French public-service broadcaster, has a very large audience in the country. The authorities have also blocked the signal of a radio station accused of supporting the opposition. BBC News reports that Mende accused Canal Congo of announcing results of the much-delayed election before the official announcement.