African Observers Describe Congo’s Elections as ‘Well Managed’

(Bloomberg) -- African observers endorsed Dec. 30 presidential and parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo that were criticized by opposition groups as chaotic and flawed.

Congolese went to the polls to find a successor to long-serving President Joseph Kabila in a vote that was already two years overdue, with Kabila’s protege Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary running for the ruling coalition. The two main opposition alliances said Monday the election was disorderly and people couldn’t vote in some anti-Kabila areas because of broken voting machines or missing voter rolls.

The local Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 monitors across the country, had reported similar failings.

The elections “were relatively well managed and the electoral process unfolded relatively well,” the observer mission of the Southern African Development Community said in a preliminary report Wednesday. A team from the African Union said in a statement that the vote took place “overall in a peaceful and serene climate.”

Both the SADC and African Union observers noted logistical problems, including polling stations which opened as much as five hours late and the late arrival of electoral equipment. The polls represented “a decisive step in the consolidation of democracy, peace and stability” in Congo,” the African Union said in its statement.

The electoral commission is expected to announce partial results of the presidential contest by Jan. 4 and a final decision 11 days later.

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