DRC – Voting Machines Set on Fire, Deaths at Opposition Rallies
Just ten days before long-overdue elections are scheduled in DRC the government yesterday confirmed that thousands of voting machines have been destroyed after a fire broke out at a warehouse in the capital. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Officials have stated that the fire will not disrupt the vote. Throughout the run up to elections the opposition has been united in its criticism of the new electronic voting machines adopted by the government. There is a feeling that the electronic devices are both impractical, particularly given the irregular power supply, and more vulnerable to vote rigging. Jean-Pierre Bemba has described them as “cheating machines”. The US is among the international actors to have expressed concern with the plans, with now former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley previously describing plans for their use as “an enormous risk” and warning “These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system.”
Meanwhile, AFP has reported that three people were killed during an opposition rally on Wednesday and two on Tuesday. Last years dozens were killed as government took a heavy handed response to protests calling for incumbent President Kabila to step aside after his constitutional mandate expired in 2016.