Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – December 31, 2023
In a contentious election marked by allegations of irregularities and opposition challenges, President Felix Tshisekedi is set to be confirmed for a second term by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this Sunday.
The two-day election exercise, held on December 20-21, saw Tshisekedi securing a significant victory with 11.8 million votes, representing 72.4% of the 16.3 million votes counted by CENI so far. Moise Katumbi, a wealthy businessman from Katanga, trails behind with 3 million votes (18%), while opposition leader Martin Fayulu claims the third position with 871,000 votes (5.3%). Other candidates received less than 300,000 votes each.
Despite the seemingly decisive victory, opposition leaders, including Katumbi and Fayulu, have raised concerns about the integrity of the electoral process. They allege irregularities and point to delayed deployment of voting materials. Joseph Kabila’s political party, the Common Front for Congo (FCC), also expressed dissatisfaction, citing logistical challenges that, according to them, disenfranchised millions of voters.
CENI responded by acknowledging exceptional cases where Voting and Counting Stations faced challenges, leading to a 24-hour extension of the voting exercise. This move, however, has not placated the concerns raised by the opposition.
The election took place against the backdrop of the M23 conflict in eastern DRC, which many observers believed would undermine Tshisekedi’s presidential bid. Despite the challenges, Tshisekedi demonstrated strength and commitment to addressing the M23 rebellion by acquiring modern weapons and issuing threats against Rwanda.
Pre-election polls indicated a growing faith in Tshisekedi’s leadership, particularly for his initiatives such as free primary education. A GeoPoll survey revealed that a majority of voters were willing to support a second term for Tshisekedi, viewing him as the most viable candidate.
However, dissatisfaction with the state of the country persists, with unemployment, insecurity, infrastructure, and food prices cited as significant challenges. The opposition’s inability to align before the polls further complicated the political landscape.
As President Tshisekedi awaits official confirmation, the DRC remains on edge, with opposition leaders and supporters demanding a thorough investigation into the alleged irregularities, setting the stage for a potentially tense post-election period.