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DRC 2023 Polls: CENI Captures 18 Million Voters As Registration Continues Amid Irregularities

More than 18 million people have registered as voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the country prepares for the general elections later this year.

The elections are due on December 20, 2023. Voter registration started on December 24 and is being done in phases.

President of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) Denis Kadima has announced that the first phase which focused on 10 provinces including the capital Kinshasa had captured slightly more than 18 million voters.

He said the 30 day period for registration in the first phase started on December 24, 2022 to January 23, 2023. However, due to logistical and technical challenges, Kadima says CENI granted a 25-day extension in those areas which expired on February 17, 2023.

“Currently, 83% of AO1 Registration Centers [Phase One] are permanently closed to the public. Only the 17% of centers that still have applicants who have received tokens and are in the queue to process th voter’s cards,” he said.

Kadima says the total number of people that was expected to register as voters was estimated at 18,694,542. However, 18,346,235 were captured which translated into 98% voter registration success.

Of the total number of voters registered so far, 9,508,758 are men while 8,837,477 are women.

Kadima says the available statistical data are provisional and will be confirmed when the final tallies are made.

Meanwhile, the opposition and some civil society organizations have condemned the process saying it was marred by technical and logistical challenges some of which have been designed to grant ruling party candidate and the incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi victory.

The opposition are citing cases in which a parliamentarian was caught with CENI materials that was headed to register at least 40, 000 voters. In areas where the opposition is seen as strong, CENI has reportedly under supplied registration equipment while in Tshisekedi’s stronghold, materials have been supplied in excess.

In the Kasai region, CENI is accused of registering children as young as seven years old. It remains to be seen if CENI will capture the estimated 50 million of voting age to participate in the December 20, 2023 polls.

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