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Democratic Republic of the Congo holds long-delayed presidential elections


Democratic Republic of the Congo holds long-delayed presidential elections

Photo: Reuters/Kenny Katombe

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was supposed to hold its presidential election today after years of delays, but it has been postponed again due to technical concerns.

Though originally called for in 2016, President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, has only this year given in to opposition and international demands to step down and hold elections. The country’s leading opposition figures, Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi, both of whom have been barred from running, have endorsed Martin Fayulu against firm Kabila loyalist Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

Under Mr Kabila’s iron-fisted rule, extrajudicial crackdowns on the opposition have become commonplace. Indeed, government forces intervened in pro-Fayulu rallies earlier this week, stoking fears about the fairness of the upcoming elections. According to polling data, most Congolese doubt polling efficacy under the electoral committee, which has often sided with Mr Kabila.

If Mr Shadary ultimately triumphs despite the opposition’s polling leads, likely in the event of rigged elections, he could become a mere puppet, holding the presidency until Mr Kabila is eligible to run again in 2023. Such a result would be deemed illegitimate by many Congolese, potentially triggering nationwide unrest. Prospects for Congo’s first-ever peaceful transition of power appear slim.

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