Countdown to DRC Elections: Will Electoral Material Be Deployed Nationwide on Schedule?

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With just three days remaining until the elections, the National Independent Electoral Commission (Céni) faces the formidable task of completing the transportation of electoral materials across the vast and conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Among the challenging regions is Ituri in the eastern part of the country. Despite its isolation and susceptibility to violence, the Céni asserts that all preparations will be finalized by Wednesday.

Benefiting from logistical support provided by the United Nations peacekeeping mission, Monusco, the Céni reports that 99% of electoral materials have been successfully deployed to the capitals of territories in Ituri. This includes areas under the influence of community militias such as Ndjugu, Mahagi, and Aru, as highlighted by our special envoy in Bunia, Gaëlle Laleix.

Jimmy Anga Matadri, the provincial executive secretary of the Céni, explains, “These are Congolese militias, and these militants have the right to vote. They have agreed to our enrollment procedures. We have engaged with community leaders who have permitted us to conduct enrollment without incident. These same militias have consented to the deployment of voting materials.”

However, the situation in the western part of Ituri presents additional challenges. The triangle encompassing Irumu, Mambasa, and Oïcha in North Kivu faces incursions from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia originating from Uganda that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Deogratias Bungamuzi, the president of the provincial youth council of Ituri, acknowledges the complexity, stating, “There is a serious issue here.

Efforts are still required, but this falls under the purview of the military authorities of the province. We have followed the speech of the military governor last week, assuring that voters will be at the polls on December 20 in all areas.” The Monusco reports ongoing deployment in the North and South Kivu provinces, as well as Ituri.

Between April and May, UN resources had already transported 128 tons of electoral materials. Since December 5, an additional 127 tons, including voting machines and ballots, have been deployed with the assistance of Monusco Aviation.

To mitigate delays, the Congolese government announced the arrival of two Hercules C-130 aircraft from the Egyptian army on Sunday. These aircraft, supplementing a fleet of other transportation means from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and Monusco helicopters, are recognized for their versatility, robustness, and proven ability to operate in diverse environments worldwide.

While some experts express concerns about the sufficiency of two aircraft, the government assures that additional aerial assets from the Congolese army will be mobilized.

However, no further details have been provided. Regarding other provinces, the UN mission indicates ongoing consultations with the Céni to clarify specific needs and the final destinations of electoral equipment. This proactive approach aims to instill confidence in the electoral process, ensuring a comprehensive and transparent deployment even in the most remote areas of the DRC.

Soukaina Sghir

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