Congolese protests turn violent as lawmakers pick election commissioner

congolese protests turn violent as lawmakers pick election commissioner
congolese protests turn violent as lawmakers pick election commissioner

As legislators chose a new election commission chairman, police in the Democratic Republic of Congo deployed tear gas to break up confrontations between supporters of the president and an opposition leader.

According to media reports, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was criticized by political experts and diplomats for its participation in the contentious 2018 presidential election, which Felix Tshisekedi won. The National Assembly selected election expert Denis Kadima to head the CENI.

When Congolese voters return to the elections in 2023, Tshisekedi is anticipated to run for a second term, and CENI will likely play a key role once again.

Kadima has “unquestionable electoral competence,” says Tresor Kibangula of New York University’s Congo Research Group. “However, the fact that his campaign was pushed behind President Felix Tshisekedi’s back soon created doubts about his independence.”

Before the 2018 elections, opposition leader Martin Fayulu and Tshisekedi established an electoral alliance, but Tshisekedi ultimately broke away to join another political party.

The CENI proclaimed Tshisekedi the winner despite numerous allegations of fraud, while Fayulu, who claimed a landslide victory, came in second.

An estimated 10,000 Fayulu supporters went to the streets of Kinshasa to protest a number of concerns, including the claim that the process of selecting the head of the CENI was influenced by politicians..

Tear gas was used by police to disperse protestors in the Limite neighborhood who were hurling petrol bombs at them, according to witnesses quoted by Reuters.

In front of a huge throng of supporters, Fayulu said that Congo required an independent and transparent CENI, as well as a CENI president who would disclose “the actual findings.”

Tshisekedi, according to Catholic University of Congo political science professor Albert Malukisa, has already taken control of the constitutional court.

I think he can win the next elections with the CENI,” I replied.

Despite being required by the constitution to do so, religious parties have been unable to come to an agreement on the leadership of the CENI.

Both Catholic and Protestant church leaders report being intimidated and/or being subjected to undue pressure.

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