Congo asks UN for help distributing electoral materials for presidential elections

The Democratic Republic of Congo has requested urgent assistance from the United Nations to distribute electoral materials to be used in the Dec. 20 legislative elections.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission of the DRC remains determined to see the electoral process through to its conclusion. To do so, it must complete the delivery of electoral materials and equipment to hard-to-reach locations within the established deadlines,” the DRC’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zénon Mukongo, said Tuesday in a letter to the president of the Security Council.

“The government (of the DRC) would be grateful if the Security Council would kindly authorize MONUSCO (the UN peacekeeping mission in the country) to extend its support to other provinces,” Mukongo added, according to local media reports.

The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has 17,700 troops in the country, is already working with Congolese authorities in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, which have been hit by violence from more than a hundred rebel groups.

On Monday, the head of MONUSCO, Special Representative Bintou Keita, warned the UN Security Council that tensions had escalated between Congo and Rwanda over the alleged support by Rwandan soldiers to the M23 rebels, and that the risk of a military confrontation that could draw in Burundi had increased.

Congo is a country of about 2.3 million square kilometers with poor infrastructure, and the electoral commission has asked the government for more equipment, including four Antonov 26 twin-engine turboprop tactical transport aircraft and ten helicopters to reach the entire country in time.

On Dec. 20, 44 million people will go to the polls to choose from more than 20 presidential candidates including the current leader, Felix Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second term.

Tshisekedi’s victory in 2018 was hailed as the first peaceful transfer of power since the DRC gained independence in 1960.

But the influential Congolese National Episcopal Conference, which provides impartial oversight of elections, at the time questioned the president’s victory based on its own investigations and the reports of more than 40,000 observers.

Moreover, the election was held two years late, after numerous and massive protests against the then president Joseph Kabila (2001-2019), who postponed the vote despite the fact that his mandate expired in 2016

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga