DR Congo set to push election back to late 2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission is reportedly planning to push back presidential elections until late 2018.
According to sources quoted by Reuters, the commission claims it can’t complete preparations for a presidential poll until December 2018. If the decision is confirmed, there are fears pushing the election back could incite further violence in the DRC.
No election until December 2018
Political tension in the DRC is high after President Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his second term in December 2016. His actions sparked protests that killed dozens in clashes with security forces and prompted fears the country could into yet another full-blown civil conflict.
Five million lives were lost in the DRC’s most recent civil war, during 1994 and 2003.
Following a public backlash, President Kabila struck a deal with opposition groups that an election would be held in 2017. However, this was essentially ruled out in July when the electoral commission said it would be unable to meet the deadline. Now, sources suggest the commission won’t be ready to hold a presidential election until December 2018 at the earliest.
DRC’s election challenges
While opposition members will be quick to criticise Kaliba’s refusal to step down as president, there are genuine challenges with holding an election in the DRC. The resource-rich nation is yet to stage a peaceful transition of power and a culture of distrust within the political sphere is an obvious burden that won’t disappear anytime soon.
Opposition members accuse Kaliba of attempting to delay elections until he can arrange a referendum paving the way for him to run for a third term – something we’ve already seen in the neighbouring Congo Republic and Rwanda.
Securing enough internal support from within the DRC’s fractured political system is a difficult hurdle for the country’s electoral commission. However, it also says it needs enough support from the international community to deter opposition factions from jeopardising the election and provide protection for voters in one of Africa’s most volatile political arenas.
Featured image: By UN Photo / Cia Pak, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35707886