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Broadcast Journalist and Multimedia Producer based in Paris, France

Calm before the storm? DRC goes to the polls

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Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo go to the polls on Monday in the country’s second election since civil war. Kinshasa had returned to calm on Sunday after a standoff at the capital’s international airport and violence that left up to eight people dead. The DRC’s electoral commission chief has once again said everything will be ready in time.

Q&A: Malefetsane Nkhahle, SADC ECF

Radio France Internationale

After emerging unscathed from a standoff with police at the airport, Etienne Tshisekedi, the main challenger to incumbent president Joseph Kabila, told journalists on Sunday that he would hold a rally at the capital’s main stadium. Despite campaigning having finished.

This never materialised and Kinshasa remained quiet and calm. RFI toured the Tshisekedi stronghold of Limete. Although there was a significant presence of riot police, life continued as normal.

The head of the electoral commission once again told journalists that they are working around the clock and preparations for the polls will be finished.

“From our side, we’re certain that everything has been done correctly and Monday the polling stations will be open,” said Daniel Ngoy Mulunda.

“We might have some issues – there have never been elections 100 per cent perfect – but we’d like to assure you that 99 per cent is going well,” the commission’s president added.

There are a number of international election observation missions in the DRC. A representative from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) told RFI that they have concerns about more violence during the count.

“Yes, we are concerned. The counting and the tallying of the results might bring with it something a bit unsavoury. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it won’t come to a situation that would prove disastrous for the country,” said Malefetsane Nkhahle, who is leading Sadc’s Electoral Commissions Forum mission in the DRC.

Nkhahle also acknowledged that there are worries that some people might not get to vote at some polling stations due to demand. He said the numbers they’ve seen on polling station lists does not indicate that they will be “overwhelmed”, although he did not comment on the electoral commission’s recent change in voting rules.

Incumbent president Joseph Kabila is widely tipped to secure re-election in Monday’s polls with the main opposition parties having failed to unite faced with a single round of voting.

Written by Daniel Finnan

27 November 2011 at 20:55

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