Congo’s election commission removes candidates from ballots alleging fraud – JURIST

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) election commission (CENI) reported on Saturday that it canceled votes cast for 82 out of 101,000 candidates in legislative and local polls held in December for their involvement in alleged fraud and other issues that disrupted the general election according to a press release posted to X.

The press release states that CENI canceled elections in Masimanimba in Kwilu Province and Yakoma in Nord Ubangi Province and canceled the votes of over 80 listed candidates. CENI states that this was due to “disruption of conduct” in the December 20 elections “in particular by acts of violence, vandalism and sabotage perpetrated by certain candidates with ill intentions against voters, their staff, their assets and election materials.” CENI also released a video statement.

The DRC general election was scheduled for Wednesday, December 20, 2023, but elections were extended after poll closures and voting machine malfunctions. A local observer, Symocel, reported that over 34 percent of polling stations opened between one and eleven hours late. Martin Fayulu and Denis Mukwege, some of the 20 candidates challenging incumbent president Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, challenged the election’s extension.

Tshisekedi was declared president of the Congo after the December 20 elections. Opposition candidates called them “sham elections” and claimed electoral fraud due to the irregularities.

The elections were contentious before December 20. The EU canceled an electoral observation mission in early December due to security concerns. Violence at political campaign events and against journalists was reported in the DRC before the elections.

Protests organized by opposition candidates followed the December elections. Both Katumbi and Fayulu rejected the election results and urged their followers to protest the “sham” election. One planned protest was banned in the capitol shortly after the election. Congolese religious figures and human rights groups have condemned violence and disorder related to the elections.

CENI announced that Tshisekedi received over 70 percent of the vote, with Katumbi receiving 18 percent and Martin Fayulu receiving just over 5 percent.

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