A Fire Destroyed Thousands of Voting Machines Days Before Elections in DRC
At least 70 percent of the voting machines have been destroyed by the fire.
A fire, which broke out in the early hours of this morning, has destroyed 70 percent of the voting machines and ballot boxes to be used in the DRC's presidential elections just 10 days away.
Just days away from the long-awaited presidential election that will see the President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, end his 17-year rule, 7000 out of the 10000 voting machines housed in an electoral commission building in the capital of Kinshasa, were destroyed by a fire. It is not yet known what caused the fire, however, Kabila's adviser, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, said that the fire was 'criminal in nature' and that the security guards who had been placed outside the building have all since been arrested.
The news of the fire comes just after several people were killed during clashes with the police at an opposition rally on Wednesday. Fears of continued violence are rampant seeing that the DRC has never experienced a peaceful transition of power following its independence from Belgium in 1960. There is constant civil unrest in the country which may at any time flare up and possibly become fully-fledged wars, some analysts have warned.
The use of voting machines has been seen as controversial. Whilst Namibia is the only other African country to make use of the machines during its elections, the country has a considerably smaller population (1.2 million) compared to the DRC's 46 million. The opposition has expressed how it feels the use of these voting machines may allow for manipulation and gross fraud in the upcoming elections in a country where Kabila has hogged power since 2001. There are also concerns that whilst Kabila has agreed to relinquish power, he is planning to ensure that one of his loyalists, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, will be the next president of the DRC.
Officials have reported that the elections will proceed as planned and that the voting machines and ballot boxes lost will be replaced immediately, obtaining voting equipment from other parts of the country and redirecting them to Kinshasa.
The presidential elections are set to take place on the 23rd of December 2018.