In what may be an abuse of executive power by the Congolese government, and an action that would have disastrous consequences for the state of democracy and election integrity for the Congo, this year’s scheduled elections may be cancelled.
According to Africa News, the Minister of State in charge of the budget Pierre Kangudia Mbayi suggested that the cost of an election may be too expensive for the country.
“It will be difficult to think that we can mobilize $1.8 billion this year,” Mbayi said. “At this stage, I prefer to keep a language of sincerity.”
The cost of this year’s election would total $1.8 billion dollars, according to last year’s estimates by Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), a number that is roughly two-thirds the cost of the United States’ national election.
Sitting president Joseph Kabila has been president since his father was assassinated in 2001, and was due to step down this year. Suspending elections may be an attempt by the Kabila administration to retain power amidst an election that looks like an inevitable loss. According to opinion polls, a large majority of Congolese want Kabila to step down; he has support from less than 8 percent of the nation.
Last May the Constitutional Courts of Congo ruled that Kabila was allowed to stay in power after his term ended in December if the country had not picked a new president. A deal was reached last year to delay the election until some time before the end of 2017, but the statement from Minister Mbayi indicates further delays.
Tensions in the Congo have escalated dramatically, and were already high as a result of this court ruling, instilling among its citizens fear of violence and uprising.
With his powers unchecked by a court that has been viewed to be consistently and unabashedly loyal to the president, Kabila has the ability to delay the election indefinitely.
Photo Credit: Reuters
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