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A SHAM OF AN ELECTION: Defective Voting Cards, Missing Mames & the Manouvres Tshisekedi Used to Win In Congo’s Chaotic US$1 Billion Election

Fèlix Tshisekedi was declared president for a second term by the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) following a disastrous electoral process of the 20th December polls marred by several irregularities.

From smudged voting cards, missing names, stolen voting machines, voter intimidation to name a few, Tshisekedi and his allies utilized every guerrilla tactic to ensure he retained the seat.

In the town Butembo in North Kivu Province, young law student Stephanie Mbafumoja reveals how her enthusiasm to exercise her right and civil duty for the first time was soured by handwork of Tshisekedi and his CENI.

Mbafumoja like many other Congolese citizens saw their voting cards carry unidentified images that looked nothing like their faces and the printed text on the card began to fade within a few weeks after obtaining the card.

For those defective or smudged cards, CENI had spent a mind-blowing US$105 million in their contract with South Korean company Miru Systems Co. Ltd in a deal that cost almost double what officials had initially budgeted.

So many voters across the country reported smudged, illegible cards that government was forced to announce, one week before the election, that people could vote without them.

Problems with the cards and the electoral roll, along with a failure to count ballots from thousands of polling stations, severely undermined voter confidence in the democratic process, three election monitoring missions said in public declarations following the vote.

Fèlix Tshisekedi’s landslide re-election – 55 points ahead of his nearest rival Moïse Katumbi – was only large enough but legitimate to convince most observers that he won despite these problems.

However, election integrity campaigners are demanding accountability, including for any shortcomings of Miru Systems’ products, along with an audit of an election that, at an estimated $1.1 billion in public spending, cost more than the war-torn DR Congo’s defence budget.

Around $250 million of that money was awarded to Miru Systems with the company defending itself that it had delivered to its contractual obligation.



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