DRC electoral body seeks to halt presidential poll

Opposition criticize legal move to postpone upcoming election

DRC electoral body seeks to halt presidential poll

By Godfrey Olukya

ARU, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Doubts were cast over an upcoming presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Saturday as the country’s electoral watchdog sought to halt the contest.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) petitioned Kinshasa Constitutional Court, seeking a postponement of the presidential poll, claiming technical problems.

It said a national update of the voters’ register -- started a month ago -- would not be complete by the time the election goes ahead.

However, the commission did not suggest how long its proposed delay should last.

President Joseph Kabila's second term, according to the constitution, expires on Dec. 19.

According to CENI head, Cornelius Nangaa, the presidential election was -- according to the constitution -- supposed to be held in September because Section 73 of the code stipulates the ballot should be convened 90 days before the expiry of the president’s mandate.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Nangaa said: ''We have noted that we cannot hold the presidential election before completing updating the voters’ register. It is for that reason that we have gone to the constitutional court to request it to allow us [to] postpone the elections.''

However, members of the opposition criticized the move, claiming it is intended to prolong Kabila's stay in power.

''Kabila does not want to leave power. He is using the electoral commission to stay longer in [the] presidency,'' said Zac Mbuli, a senior mobilizer for the opposition Congolese Rally for Democracy.

A court decision is expected shortly.

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