Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.
The scene did not inspire much confidence in the credibility of upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Thursday morning, residents of the Central African country’s capital, Kinshasa, awoke to smoke billowing out of a warehouse where ballot boxes and voting machines were being stored. The election commission reported that at least 8,000 voting machines had been destroyed, but said the elections, scheduled for Dec. 23, would go ahead as planned.
The immediate reaction to the fire, which the Financial Times described as a “suspected arson attack,” highlighted the hotly contested nature of the pre-election political landscape. The ruling coalition said an opposition supporter was likely responsible, accusing opposition candidates like Martin Fayulu of calling on their backers to destroy election materials. For their part, opposition politicians, joined by members of civil society, openly wondered if the fire hadn’t been set by the government to delay the vote.