Election monitors from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have said the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election “went relatively well” despite chaotic scenes that prevented many from voting.
The qualified endorsement from the regional body on Wednesday countered allegations by opposition candidates that the December 30 vote was marred by widespread irregularities.
Approval of the election’s results by SADC powers like South Africa and Angola will be critical for the legitimacy of the administration of the next president, who will succeed incumbent Joseph Kabila on January 18.
Pre-election polling showed Kabila’s preferred candidate, ex-interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, trailing the main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, but both sides say they expect to win.
The election is meant to lead to Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence. But more than a million Congolese in opposition strongholds were prevented from votingdue to an Ebola outbreak, local factional conflict and various logistical problems.READ MORE
“Taking into account the range of challenges posed by these elections, the [mission] observed that the elections … were relatively well-managed,” the SADC mission said in its statement.
The election allowed “the majority of the Congolese population to exercise its right to vote”.
Provisional results are expected on January 6, with the final outcome on January 15.