DRC gears up for general elections

More than 31 million voters have registered for the forthcoming general election scheduled for November in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This represents a significant increase compared to about 25,6 million that registered for the last election held in 2006.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) has said it is happy with the way the electoral process is progressing, adding that the response from voters had been overwhelming.

“It is more than we expected,” Ceni chairperson Daniel Ngoy Mulunda said at a Press conference following the completion of the first phase of the updating of the electoral roll.

He said overwhelming response is a positive sign that people are willing to participate in national development.

Once the registration exercise is completed, the next step would be the launch of the election campaigns, which is expected in August.

President Joseph Kabila is seeking re-election in the general election scheduled for November 28.

His likely opponents include Etienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party and former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Vital Kamerhe, who heads the Congolese National Union party.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, who came second in the 2006 presidential election, is currently facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and may, therefore, be unlikely to participate in the forthcoming polls.

Bemba, the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, is on trial at the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity committed by his rebel troops in the Central African nation in 2002.

However, analysts say that from his detention cell, Bemba could still turn out to be the most important determinant of whom among Tshisekedi and Kamerhe could get the most votes. His endorsement of either Tshisekedi or Kamerhe could prove crucial as he still commands a good following.

According to an Electoral Reform Bill approved by Kabila in June, the President and 500-member Parliament would be elected to a five-year term by simple majority, with no second round of voting.

In the previous election, a candidate needed to garner 50 percent-plus-one votes to be elected President.

A second round of voting was previously required pitting the top two candidates to determine the winner in the event that none of the presidential candidates garnered more than half of the votes. — sardc.net

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