1st February, 2018
Mr Corneille Nangaa, Chairman of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Electoral commission (CENI), on Thursday said 46 million voters have so far been registered by the umpire.
Repeated stalling of the election has raised tensions across the Democratic Republic of Congo, triggering street protests and encouraging armed rebellions, especially since Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired at the end of 2016.
Scores have been killed by security forces at protests in the capital Kinshasa, including several in demonstrations organised by the Roman Catholic Church since the end of last year to demand that the election go ahead.
“A total of 46,021,454 voters had been registered, 12 per cent more than expected. Only the Congolese diaspora is left, and registration for them would start in July.
“CENI is working to ensure the elections happen on Dec. 23,” he said.
Kabila, who has been in power since his father was shot dead in office in 2001, denies clinging to power and has blamed the schedule slipping on problems registering voters in the vast, heavily forested country.
Completing registration is a major step towards the election going ahead, although it is unclear to what extent this will soothe tensions among a sceptical populace.
Kabila’s opponents suspect him of seeking a referendum to change Congo’s constitution to enable him to run for more than two terms, as the leaders of neighbouring Uganda, Rwanda and Congo Republic have.
In a news conference on Friday, Kabila declined to confirm or deny this, as in the past.