Preliminary Statement of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Pan-African Youth Union for the General Elections in the DR Congo of December 30, 2018.

The Panafrican Youth Union Presidency has issued a preliminary statement of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Pan-African Youth Union for the General Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo of December 30, 2018.

In its introductory word, the Panafrican Youth Union notes that on Sunday, December 3, 2018, Congolese voters went to the polls to elect a new President of the Republic and their next national and provincial deputies.

On the basis of information published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), there were 21 presidential candidates of the Republic, 15358 national deputy candidates, and 19643 provincial deputies; in all, 40,024,897 voters have been registered.

Responding to the invitation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the Pan-African Youth Union deployed an Election Observation mission, with the objective of making an independent observation, the professional and impartial evaluation of the transparency, integrity and fairness in order to ensure that the electoral process complies with the laws of the DRC.

The mission is led by Her Excellency Juliana RATOVOSON, Vice President of the Panafrican Youth Union. This commission was deployed on December 16, 2018, and was made up of 3 members of the executive committee.

The mission was also accompanied by international observers from the National Youth Councils of Zimbabwe, Mali, Niger, and Uganda as well as 12,500 young members of the Congolese National Youth Council.

The observers of the Pan-African Youth Union have been deployed throughout the National Congolese territory.

The Observation mission activities.

As part of its activities, the mission of the Pan-African Youth Union met with the CENI Executive Secretary and the heads of this institution at the level of the local branches as well as the international observers, the national observers, and the voters.

This statement, which has an assessment of the electoral context, is based on the activities and interactions of the observers of the Pan-African Youth Union with the country’s stakeholders as well as the direct election observation reports.

The observation mission of the UPJ will continue to follow the evolution of the electoral process and a comprehensive report that will sanction the end of our mission of observation of the general elections of December 2018 in the DRC, will be transmitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and published on the website of the UPJ and its social networks.

Findings and preliminary observations.

The political context of elections:

The elections held on December 30, 2018, were initially scheduled for December 23, 2018. They were postponed for technical reasons. The Mission noted the following observations:

The postponement of elections in three localities: Beni, Butembo, and Yumbi. Elections in these constituencies will be subject to a specific timetable; the CENI justifies the postponement of the elections in Beni, Butembo, and Yumbi by the persistence of the Ebola virus disease, the terrorist threat, the massive displacement of the populations, the destruction of all the electoral materials, the looting and the fire of the warehouses and the installation of the CENI antenna. In these localities, elections will be held in March 2019.

Other observations include altercations between some supporters of the candidates and elements of the national police; a large number of applications; the location of polling stations in schools; storage of voting machine reserves in some centers; a strong presence of candidates’ witnesses; a deployment of national and international observers.

As far as security is concerned, the UPJ made this statement: The mission notes that the security issue is an obstacle for all actors and more particularly the participation of voters in the vote, on polling day. The mission found that security services are working closely with CENI to address these challenges.

Election Administration.

The mission notes that the Independent National Electoral Commission is the management structure of the electoral process for elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Election campaign.

Presidential and legislative contenders had thirty days of the campaign to convince their voters. The campaign was generally calm. Candidates were free to campaign on the extent of the national territory; however, the mission got to know that the movements of some candidates would have been restricted.

However, the mission found some criticism of some candidates about the means used, and the differences in language between supporters.

Media: Regarding the media coverage of the elections, there was freedom of expression and opinion.

Recommendations.

In order to continually improve the Congolese electoral system, the UPJ Observation mission addresses the recommendations to the CENI to organize the elections in the regions where the vote has not taken place in accordance with the provisions of the electoral law, in this case, Beni, Butembo, Yumbi.

The UPJ also recommends that political actors encourage the search for consensus with political actors in the settlement of disputes.

The UPJ finally recommends to the government to promote volunteering to strengthen the participation of young people and women during the electoral process.

Conclusion.

The elections of December 30, 2018, in the DRC, show a significant advance in the consolidation of democracy and stabilization of the country. They were held in accordance with the norms and rules and allowed the Congolese people to freely elect its President of the Republic and its national and provincial deputies.

 

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