Congo presidential candidates call for urgent measures to 'save' election

DR Congo

Six presidential candidates in Democratic Republic of Congo, including President Felix Tshisekedi's main rivals, called on Tuesday for urgent measures to prevent potential fraud in the upcoming general election.

In a joint statement, the candidates promised to work together to prevent any manipulation of results, and demanded a number of measures from the electoral commission including the publication of electoral lists and mapping of polling stations.

The run-up to Congo's Dec. 20 vote has been fraught with tension. International allies and human rights groups have accused the authorities of cracking down on dissent and freedom of expression, charges the government has denied.

All of the opposition candidates have expressed concerns about potential electoral fraud and lack of transparency.

"After so much vagueness and lack of seriousness which characterized all the pre-electoral operations..., it is necessary that a few days before the electoral campaign, urgent measures be taken to save the electoral process," the statement said.

The candidates cited in particular the poor quality of the voter cards distributed, which they said were illegible, and delays in publishing the lists of voters and polling stations.

The deployment of election observers is impossible because the exact number of polling stations and their locations has not been made public, the statement said.

Its signatories included Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege; the former governor of the rich mining province of Katanga, Moise Katumbi; and the runner-up in the 2018 presidential election, Martin Fayulu.

The spokesperson for Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, CENI president Denis Kadima met with U.S. officials in Washington as part of a "rebranding" campaign to dispel concerns about the commission's past record.

A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that Washington remained concerned about "possible violence, threats to press freedom and freedom of peaceful assembly, and attempts by certain parties to manipulate the vote.

Source: VOA

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