The ongoing presidential election campaign has entered its sixteenth day, marked by candidates fervently engaging with the country’s 44 million voters. However, the campaign has not been without incidents, as reports of torn portraits or effigies of candidates surfaced in the provinces of North Kivu, Katanga, and even in the capital, Kinshasa.
The Symocel, a coalition of election observation missions, issued a statement on Monday, offering an assessment of the initial days of the campaign. The Symocel specifically highlighted incidents of torn candidate portraits, expressing concern over such actions. The coalition also cautioned against interference, citing instances of banned meetings and restricted air travel slots for candidates.
Luc Lutala, the national coordinator of Symocel, urged all parties to exercise restraint. He noted that this phenomenon, particularly targeting candidates such as Félix Tshisekedi and Moïse Katumbi in isolated cases, indicated rejection by certain groups. Lutala called on the Ministry of the Interior to secure the electoral process, expressing a perception that the ministry is struggling to fulfill this obligation.
“We also call on political parties to educate their supporters on tolerance and respect for fundamental freedoms. Additionally, we urge provincial authorities, who impose limitations on candidates’ fundamental freedoms, to uphold the law rather than resort to such actions. By restricting fundamental freedoms, they contribute to inciting anger among supporters of various camps,” emphasized Luc Lutala in an interview with Gwendal Lavina.
As the DRC navigates through the presidential campaign, the call for political maturity, respect for freedoms, and adherence to electoral laws becomes increasingly imperative, underlining the significance of a transparent and peaceful electoral process.