DR Congo to Hold First Presidential Vote in 46 Years

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will hold its first presidential vote since its independence in 1960 on Sunday.

one of the deadliest conflicts in the world, which claimed nearly four million lives since 1998, the DRC with the help of the European Network for Central Africa (EurAC) among others will hold a historic election with more than 25 million voters expected to participate. The EurAC is a European based advocacy network for central Africa.

Christian Aid UK is an actively involved member of EurAC, which has sent 125 international observers to monitor the electoral process.

“It is essential to have a mission that evaluates the process independently,” says Jacques Miaglia, Christian Aid’s representative in the DRC. “The more the observers will be seen, the more people will trust in the electoral process and will be likely to accept the outcome of the vote.”

The role of the observer is to prevent fraud or any disturbance of the elections.

The upcoming election came after more than two years following a power-sharing agreement was reached and a transitional government was installed. Some 50,000 polling stations will be available for the voters to elect the new president among 33 candidates.

About 5,000 national and 500 international observers have been sent throughout the country to monitor the election.

Christian Aid’s partner Dynamique de la Societe Civile has run a civic education project throughout DRC to encourage people to vote in the presidential election. Using poster campaigns, radio advertising, street performances, and forums in the marketplace where locals can meet and question their politicians, the effort was successful according to the Christian Aid representative.

“This initiative has had a very positive impact on the population,” said Jacques Miaglia. “Everyone wants to go to vote on Sunday.”

However, challenges remain as the election approaches. Poor infrastructure and the large size of the country lead to logistical challenges in organization national elections. In addition, many tensions remain between armed groups that haven’t been demobilized in the east, reported Christian Aid.

The EurAC member also noted the new president will be confronted with restructuring the economy, promoting good governance and building the local capacities in a country which, in spite of its mineral wealth, remains one of the poorest in the world.

The DRC currently has the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world with some 17,000 troops, which will be reinforced by 2,000 EU forces over the election period.