U.S. warns Congo against electronic voting

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U.S. has warned Democratic Republic of Congo against electronic voting system for long-delayed presidential election in December.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told an informal UN Security Council meeting on the Congolese electoral process that deploying the system would undermine the credibility of the poll.

He added that electronic voting system, being an unfamiliar technology for the first time during crucial election was an enormous risk.

Haley told the meeting, which was organised by the U.S. that “elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results.

“The U.S. has no appetite to support electronic voting system.”

Several other countries on the 15-member council also raised concerns about the possible use of electronic voting in the Congo.

An election to replace President Joseph Kabila, who had been in power since his father was shot dead in in 2001, was scheduled for end of December and that country’s electoral commission had finished registering 46 million voters in January.

Stalling the election repeatedly raised tension across the country, triggering street protests and encouraging armed rebellions, especially since Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired
in 2016.

Corneille Nangaa, President of the Independent National Electoral Commission, told the meeting that using voting machines would “reduce the weight of all the equipment deployed from 16,000 tonnes to less than 8,000 tonnes.”

However, Rushdi Nackerdien, Africa’s Director for International Foundation for Electoral Systems, said “these machines still need to be tested, configured, deployed and used in a tense mistrustful context.”

“On a single day it is proposed that roughly 106,000 machines must work flawlessly across 90,000 polling stations.

“Securing these machines and the data they transmit from cyber attacks will be critical and challenging,” he said.

Kabila’s ruling majority and opposition leaders struck a deal allowing him to stay in power but required that the election be held by the end of 2017.

The country’s electoral commission, however, later said that was not possible and scheduled the vote for Dec. 23.

“The government is yet to take adequate steps to fully open political space and create an environment conducive to the holding of credible, free, fair and transparent elections,” UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said.

According to Lacroix, no credible elections can take place in a context of fear and oppression.

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