Factbox-How Congo’s election could unfold and why it matters

(Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo held presidential and legislative elections this week against a backdrop of militia violence in the east, a chaotic campaign and claims the electoral commission was not prepared to hold a free and fair vote.

Here are some key facts about how the election could unfold.


Voting started on Dec. 20 as planned, but some polling stations opened late and some didn’t open at all due to machines malfunctioning, violence and other issues.

Because of the issues, authorities decided to extend voting into a second day at polling stations that had failed to open.

Five opposition candidates said the extension was illegal and demanded a rerun.

The tumult of election day followed a campaign marred by political violence and repeated warnings from the opposition and independent observers about the lack of transparency.


Congo’s last election, in 2018, was also chaotic. Days before the vote, authorities postponed the election by a week after a fire destroyed voting materials.

President Felix Tshisekedi was declared winner about 10 days after the election, but the opposition claimed fraud and some high-level observers said they doubted his victory.

Runner-up Martin Fayulu launched a court appeal, and Congo’s top court confirmed Tshisekedi’s win later that month. Human Rights Watch said at least 10 people were killed by security forces during post-election demonstrations.

The 2018 election led to Congo’s first democratic transition of power. The country held multi-party elections twice before – in 2006 and 2011 – which were won by former president Joseph Kabila, who had taken over from his father.

In those polls, opposition candidates rejected the results and the elections were followed by deadly clashes.


Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s second-biggest country, with a population of over 100 million people.

Dozens of armed militia are active along Congo’s borders with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, where millions died in regional wars between 1996 and 2003. Any political instability could potentially worsen the long-running conflict.

Congo is also the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, a key component in batteries for electric cars and mobile phones, and a top diamond and copper producer.

Chinese and Western investors are expected to increase their investment in Congo’s mining sector but are waiting to see that the transfer to the next term is smooth.

Whoever wins will have to take the lead on renegotiating a multi-billion dollar metals-for-infrastructure deal with China.


Full provisional results of the presidential election are not expected before Dec. 31, although the electoral commission has said it will announce results from each polling station as they come in.

Opposition candidates have already flagged issues with the voting process and could decide to challenge the results. In the past, competing claims of victory have led to violent clashes.

The extension of voting into a second day could also open it up to legal challenges, said election observers. CENI has not responded to the opposition candidates’ calls for a rerun, but it has said the extension does not affect the credibility of the vote.

The administration of Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second term, has dismissed criticism of the vote and called the elections “inclusive, peaceful, and transparent”.

(Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Nick Macfie)