In pictures: DR Congo’s landmark elections

December 31, 2018 8:45 am
Classroom queue: Voters wait outside a polling station at the Institute Maendeleo in Kabare, South Kivu province © AFP / Fredrik Lerneryd

, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec 31 – Fears and frustration mingled with patience and optimism on Sunday as the Democratic Republic of Congo’s voters turned out en masse for a historic presidential election.

The vote should have been held two years ago, but President Joseph Kabila hung on to power, sparking protests that were brutally quelled and a wave of international condemnation.

Queues built up at many polling stations as voters searched for their name on the electoral roll, showing where they should cast their ballot © AFP / MARCO LONGARI

The turmoil caused fears that the DRC — which has never had a peaceful handover of power since independence from Belgium in 1960 — could slide back into conflict.

Voters waiting to cast their ballot at the St Raphael polling station in Kinshasa voice their anger at long delays. Balloting there was later extended by several hours © AFP / Luis TATO

But on voting day, the biggest immediate headache was not violence but organisational problems that caused long lines at polling stations.

Hitches were reported with electronic voting machines, the source of much pre-electoral controversy.

Electronic voting machines printed a ballot sheet of the elector’s choice, which was then placed in a ballot box for counting. In a country where political scepticism runs deep, the opposition was suspicious of promises that the machines were safe © AFP / MARCO LONGARI

In the troubled east, a symbolic vote was held in Beni, one of several regions where the election has been postponed until March because of insecurity.

Votes elsewhere will be counted in the coming days, with provisional results published on January 6 and the official results on January 15, followed by the next president’s inauguration on January 18.

Citizens queue at a symbolic polling station at Malepe Stadium in the eastern city of Beni. The ‘vote’ was a protest — the authorities have postponed elections in the troubled area until March, weeks after the next president takes office © AFP / ALEXIS HUGUET


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