Problems Force Extension of Congo Election

BOKONZO, DR CONGO (November 29, 2011) – Although violence occurred in some parts of the country during balloting in the presidential and parliamentary election on Monday, the process seemed to go more smoothly in the northwest region where the Congo Covenant Church (CEUM) is located.

The election was extended to a second day after there were numerous reported problems, including an inadequate supply of ballots in some areas.

Byron Miller, director of the Paul Carlson Partnership, said today he still was waiting to hear more information on how the election has gone in the northwest region. Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Pete Ekstrand did not report any problems with balloting in Bokonzo, where he is located.

Voters are electing a president as well as 500 members of parliament. It is only the second election since the country was ripped apart by civil war. It is the first election organized by the government. The international community organized the previous election in 2006.

“The ballots will be counted separately so that the winner of the presidential election can be announced next week,” Ekstrand reports. “The winners of the election for Parliament will not be announced until about mid-January.”

Getting ballots distributed throughout much of the country is difficult because virtually no transportation infrastructure exists. Less than two percent of roads in the country are paved. Travel over the rugged dirt roads often is arduous. Some ballots had to be delivered by helicopter or boats to otherwise inaccessible areas.

Other logistics make voting difficult. According to figures published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), there are more than 30 million voters choosing among 19,000 candidates for parliament. The Kinshasa ballot alone runs 56 pages and lists more than 1,500 candidates.

Although there are 11 candidates for president, current office holder Joseph Kabila is expected to be re-elected. He has held power for 10 years. Some opposition candidates already have advised their followers to be ready to fight if their candidate loses.

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