United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has expressed concern on the disqualification and blocking of opposition candidates to participate in the December 23 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Harley has also questioned the government of the DRC on the decision to reject financial and material support in the holding of a free and credible election.
Six opposition candidates including former vice-president Jean Pierre Bemba have been disqualified from the election while popular candidate Moise Katumbi was blocked from entering the country to file his nomination.
Harley says the problems surrounding the elections in Congo were fixable urging the government of President Joseph Kabila to ensure the holding of a credible election.
“There must be space for them to speak and compete freely. There is still time to resolve such issues. These problems are fixable,” she reiterated.
Harley also expressed doubt on the disputed electronic voting machines which she notes were not ready for use.
“The use of paper ballots should also be permitted as a ‘tried and tested’ method that would provide a fail‑safe to voters,” she said
Harley says it is not an insult for the DRC to receive outside assistance because the practice was standard globally.
“It does not insult the [Democratic Republic of the Congo]’s sovereignty for the [Independent National Electoral Commission] to access support from MONUSCO,” she said.
Harley was delighted with the decision by President Kabila not to seek re-election as instructed by the country’s constitution insisting; however, that this decision should reflect into a democratic transfer of power.
“History will look favourably on President Kabila’s decision, if it translates to free and credible elections,” she emphasized.
Harley further expressed concern with the preparations of the election in one of the most richest natural resource countries. The Congo; however, remains the poorest in the world.
It’s hoped that the election if credible, inclusive and democratic will give the central African nation a new lease of life.
With four months before the delayed polls, Harley states, “we are in fact running out of time”.
President Kabila has delayed the election for two years extending his stay in office to 17 years but attempts by his supporters and government functionaries to allow a third term were thwarted by a vigilant opposition and the international community.
The ruling coalition has since selected Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to run as president in the fourth coming election. There are 19 other candidates in the race but the most prominent and popular Katumbi and Bemba combination has been blocked and disqualified respectively.