A man walks past smoke rising from a fire at the independent national electoral commission's (CENI) warehouse on December 13, 2018 in Kinshasa, ten days ahead of presidential elections. (Photo by John WESSELS / AFP)

Fire destroys thousands of voting machines in DR Congo

Days before presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a fire broke out in an electoral commission building in the capital of Kinshasa destroying  70 percent (7000 out of the 10000 voting machines) of the voting machines and ballot boxes to be used. The fire broke out around 2 am yesterday morning.

A thick cloud of black smoke was still visible above the city by early morning, the AFP news agency reported.

The blaze comes after three people were killed on Wednesday in clashes with police on the sidelines of an opposition rally in eastern DRC. Election violence is not new to a country that has never experienced a peaceful transition of power following its independence from Belgium in 1960.

President Joseph Kabila will end his 17-year rule in the coming elections. Under the president’s rule, there is constant civil unrest in the country which may at any time flare up and possibly become fully-fledged wars, some analysts have warned.

President Kabila says the police guarding the warehouse has been arrested, assuring the country’s first peaceful transfer of power in the coming elections. The election would go as planned, voting machines from elsewhere in the country would be recalled to be used in Kinshasa.

The use of voting machines has been seen as controversial. Whilst Namibia is the only other African country to make use of the machines during its elections, the country has a considerably smaller population (1.2 million) compared to the DRC’s 46 million. The opposition has expressed how it feels the use of these voting machines may allow for manipulation and gross fraud in the upcoming elections in a country where Kabila has hogged power since 2001. There are also concerns that whilst Kabila has agreed to relinquish power, he is planning to ensure that one of his loyalists, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, will be the next president of the DRC‘, OkayAfrica reports.

The presidential elections are set to take place on the 23rd of December 2018 and will be the country’s first use of voting machines.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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