Six Congo presidential candidates ask top court to ensure fair vote

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Six opposition candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Dec. 20 presidential election on Thursday asked the country’s Constitutional Court to compel the electoral commission to publish the final voter roll, warning of potential irregularities and fraud.

The candidates including a leading opposition candidate Martin Fayulu and Nobel Peace Prize-winning gynaecologist Denis Mukwege who is running for the first time, alleged intentional irregularities by the commission that questions the reliability of the electoral roll.

A spokesperson for Congo’s national electoral commission known as CENI, declined to comment.

The head of the electoral commission had previously rejected the accusations. He told Reuters in an interview in October that the commission will ensure that the election is free and fair.

The electoral commission has come under increased scrutiny from opposition parties, the influential Roman Catholic Church in Congo, and international partners such as the United States, that have all raised concerns over its handling of the voter registration process, and the publication of the roll.

The U.S. last week asked the CENI in a statement to ensure that the final voter registration lists are accessible without delay.

The six candidates said in a joint statement on Thursday that publishing the voter roll as stipulated by the law would allow enough time to fix any issues and enable voters to know where they’ll vote.

Fayulu who came second in the disputed 2018 presidential election which he claimed to have won, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that the current electoral roll was unreliable.

“We do not know how many voters the final electoral roll contains,” Fayulu said, adding that the opacity over the registration process was intentional in order to favour President Tshisekedi’s ruling coalition.

The commission had said previously that over 43.9 million voters are registered for the election in a provisional roll.

(Reporting by Ange Kasongo; Editing by Bate Felix and Jonathan Oatis)