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Report of the international observation mission of the presidential elections in DR Congo of December 30th, 2018.

11.01.2019
The presidential election of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took place on 30 December 2018 and at the same time as the parliamentary elections and the elections of the deputies of the representative bodies of the provinces. The vote took 11 hours from 6.00 to 17.00. However, most polling stations continued to work after 5: 00 p.m. because of the large number of electors who came to vote. However, most polling stations continued to work after 17:00 because of the large number of electors who came to vote.

Total number of registered electors: 25 781 515, total number of polling stations: 75 781.

There are no more than 600 registered voters in each polling station. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) conducted the elections.

Legal regulation

The legal framework of the presidential election of the Democratic Republic of Congo consists of the Constitution of the DRC of February 18, 2006 (modified by the Law №11 / 002 of January 20, 2011), Organic Law № 10/013 of 28.07.2010 on the organization and functioning of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Law № 04/028 of 24.12.2004 on the identification and enlistment of voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Law № 06/006 of 09.03 .2006 on the organization of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections. The application of the last Law in the elections of 30 December 2018 was determined by Decision №001BIS/CENI/BUR/18 of 19/02/2018 on implementing measures of Law №06/006 of 09/03/2006 on the organization of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections, which is modified and completed to date.

In addition, the order of priority and the timetable of certain electoral actions, including the new date of the vote, were determined by CENI decisions: decision № 065 / CENI/BUR/ 17 of 05/11/2017 on publishing the calendar of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections, decision № 007/CENI/BUR / 18 of 06.04.2018 on publishing the statistics of voters by electoral entity.

The election calendar. Postponement of the voting dates.

Article 70 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo provides that the President shall be elected for a term of 5 years. The previous presidential election was held in 2011. Thus, the next presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should have been in 2016. After the political crisis, the leaders of the country’s political forces signed a general political agreement on 31 December 2016, according to it, the CENI was authorized to adopt the electoral calendar and determine the date of the vote. According to the decision № 065 / CENI / BUR / 17 of 05/11/2017, on publishing the calendar of the presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections, the date of the vote was fixed on 23.12.2018.

The organizational problems caused by the Ebola epidemic, the large fire in the CENI’s economic premises, which destroyed more than 7 000 voting cars and the crash of the aircraft with CENI materials have caused the postponement of the voting date from December 23, 2018 to December 30, 2018. According to the article 1 of the decision №055 / CENI / BUR / 18 of 26.12.2018, the preliminary results of the elections will be announced by the CENI on 06.01.2019 and the final results by the Constitutional Court on 15.01.2019.

In addition, in the electoral districts, the territory of Beni, the city of Beni and Butembo, the province of North Kivu and the territory of Yumbi of the province of Mai-Ndombe the elections were postponed till March 20192[1]. The voting on these territories will be held according to an appropriate plan approved by the CENI.

List of electors

In order to be on the list of electors, the person must meet the following requirements:

  • have Congolese citizenship;
  • are over 18 years of age on the last day of the electoral cycle;
  • are present in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the time of registration of voters;
  • have the capacity to exercise civil and political rights.

Those who cannot be included in the list of voters:

  • Persons proven to be incapable by a medical certificate;
  • Persons whose civil and political rights are limited by a court decision in force;
  • Military and police, except retirees.

Each voter receives a voter card valid for the entire electoral cycle. If the voter registration card is lost during the election cycle, the card holder may contact the registration centre of the place of residence to request the issuance of a duplicate.

Persons who are not on the list of electors, do not have the right to vote. It is not permitted to register these persons on the list of voters of the polling station on the election day.

The Voting Process. Voting Machines

The voting procedure complies with the requirements of articles 47-60 of Law № 06/006 of 09.03.2006 on the organization of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections and articles 62-63 of the decision № 001BIS / CENI/BUR / 18 of 19/02/2018 on the measures of implementation of Law № 06/006 of 09/03/2006 on the organization of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections, which is modified and completed to date. There is no voting procedure outside the polling station and remote voting. Citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo who are outside on the day of the vote do not vote.

The novelty of the electoral process of 30 December 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the use of voting machines. These machines make it possible to print the elector’s will on the ballot, but not to submit and/or count the votes of the electors.

Thus, the procedure of electronic voting is excluded, which is prohibited by article 237 of Law № 06/006 of 09.03.2006 on the organization of presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and local elections.

The use of voting machines is organized in such a way to exclude violation of the secrecy of the vote.

Voting machines reduce the costs of printing ballot papers and attract voters’ attention to elections. Voting machines help to increase the turnout, which is important as low turnout is quite typical for the countries in central and eastern Africa.

Observation

In accordance with the legislation in force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, witnesses nominated by independent candidates and political parties, national and international observers have the right to monitor the process. Journalists may also be present at the territory of polling stations and electoral commissions.

The Election Day

In general, polling day was quite well organized, and the interaction of the members of the election commission with the observers was constructive and friendly.

However, a number of irregularities were noted during the monitoring process, including violations of electoral legislation, the work of the electoral commissions and the organization of the voting and counting process.

  1. In many polling stations, the voting started much later than it is required by law (06:00) due to adverse weather conditions.

In this regard, queues were observed in many polling stations. In order for these people to be able to vote, the election commissions extended their working hours, and many polling stations closed later than 17:00.

  1. Some members of the Electoral Commissions from several polling stations were not trained properly to use the voting machines; some could not launch the voting machines on by themselves or explain to voters how to use the voting machine, which caused a delay in voting and the formation of queues for voters.
  2. The lack or interruption of electricity at some polling station slowed down the process of counting. The CENI had taken measures and provided available all the polling stations with kits which included rechargeable lamps among other items.
  3. Some observers noticed difficulties experienced by voters while trying to find names on voters’ lists.
  4. Voters, who were abroad on the day of the vote, including those who permanently live outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were not able to exercise their active right to vote at the elections. Thus, the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the absence of such implementation, violated the right to vote of the citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In conclusion, evaluating the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it can be seen that, overall, the elections was organized in accordance with the electoral law of the country, except the irregularities mentioned above. At the same time, the electoral commissions authorized a number of justified deviations of the procedures established by law.

 

Mission information

The AFRIC mission consisted of 35 observers, representing 19 countries (Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon, Malaysia, Turkey, Gabon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Russia, India, Chad, Benin, Belarus, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, UK, Germany and Mongolia). The main languages of communication during the mission were English and French.

27 experts observed the vote in the capital of the DRC, Kinshasa.

8 experts of the mission made a short-term observation of the elections in the following 2 cities:

  • Madimba ;
  • Kasangulu.

Mission members visited more than 60 polling station (with an average of 10 polling stations per team).

AFRIC expresses its gratitude to the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for their help. Observers are also grateful to the CENI, representatives of civil society organizations, and local and international observers for their cooperation.

[1] Art 2 Decision №055/CENI/BUR/18 of 26.12.2018

 

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