As Congo Pushes for Another Vote Delay, Kabila Eyes 18 More Months in Office

As Congo Pushes for Another Vote Delay, Kabila Eyes 18 More Months in Office
Riot police remove a barricade used to block a road during protests, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 20, 2016 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

The target for elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo only seems to get further away. This week, the country’s national election commission issued a statement saying it would be unable to organize a vote before April 2019—nearly two and a half years after the expiration of President Joseph Kabila’s mandate. Congo’s opposition and the donor community were expected to lodge strong protests to the new timeline, which would represent a brazen violation of a political accord reached at the end of last year.

The ostensible reason for the delay is that more time is needed to register voters and sort out election logistics. But while organizing elections in Congo is no easy task, the nominally independent election commission is widely seen by analysts as intentionally stalling to keep Kabila in office. As Philip Kleinfeld documented in a recent article for IRIN, the completion of registration in the Kasai region—where thousands have been killed in fighting involving the Kamuina Nsapu militia, which launched an insurgency against the government last year—is still months away. Even at this early stage, the integrity of the process could already be jeopardized. One province in Kasai that is home to two Cabinet members has recorded registration totals that seem inflated—one opposition politician called them “simply unbelievable”—raising concerns about fraud.

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