DRC poll results postponed

Published Jan 24, 2012


The Democratic Republic of Congo's beleaguered electoral panel announced Tuesday that it was postponing “until further notice” the announcement of results of November parliamentary polls.

Jacques Djoli, vice-president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) told AFP of the postponement as CENI said they wished to deal with disputes and claims over the results “in full impartiality.”

The provisional results of the November 28 elections had been due on Thursday.

Electoral candidates and observer groups have charged that the polling and vote-counting were chaotic, while candidates have cried foul.

“We mustn't make an issue of the dates” for the release of results, Djoli said, noting that all of the country's counting centres have finished compiling their figures, except Kinshasa, “where the task is more than 70 percent complete.”

Almost 5,000 candidates vied for 51 seats in the capital.

CENI, which has published results from 107 of the 169 counting centres, had already postponed the announcement of the results in the face of increasing criticism of the compilation process and complaints from candidates.

The DR Congo's Roman Catholic church was slammed the compilation process as “unacceptable” and urged CENI “imperatively to correct serious mistakes” or to “resign”.

“You ask for a fully impartial task, so you must let us take the time to deal with the claims,” Djoli responded, adding that some “350 ... founded and justified claims may be the object of an examination in detail.”

“You can't ask us to carry out a responsible job and then put pressure on us to publish any old thing. People need to know what they want,” he said.

In total, almost 19,000 candidates vied at the polls for the 500 seats in the National Assembly of the DR Congo, a huge central African country that was wracked by two wars from 1997 to 2003.

Eastern provinces are still wracked by conflict, partly concerning control of considerable mineral wealth.

CENI came under heavy criticism in December when it announced the results of the presidential poll, which was held on the same day as the parliamentary elections.

It gave victory to outgoing president Joseph Kabila, who first came to office in 2001 and was elected in the first post-war elections in 2006. He defeated long-standing opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi.

Tshisekedi rejected the results and pronounced himself president-elect on December 24, 2011.

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

Foreign experts from two US groups have since January 05, 2012 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.

In mid-January, to “stem the crisis on the horizon,” three candidates who lost in the presidential poll, including Senate speaker Leon Kengo, proposed that Kabila convene a round table on whether the parliamentary polls should be considered valid, on a “new electoral timetable” and on the reorganisation of CENI. - Sapa-AFP

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