Kinshasa, 2nd January, 2019: The Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2018 Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honourable Joseph Malanji, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia on 2nd January, 2019 presented the SEOM Preliminary Statement alongside four other international election observers, following the Presidential, Legislative and Provincial elections held on 30th December, 2018.
Presenting the Preliminary Statement, Hon. Malanji said, considering the range of challenges around the DRC elections, the SEOM observed that the 2018 Presidential, Legislative and Provincial Elections were comparatively well managed and the voting process proceeded relatively smoothly, enabling the majority of the people of the DRC to exercise their right to vote. On this note, Hon. Malanji commended the people of the DRC for turning out in their large numbers to exercise their right to vote.
Hon. Malanji referred that, in undertaking its observation process, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission recognises that the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced various challenges throughout its history which have impeded its development and political progression.
He noted the work done by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) in managing the electoral process, particularly its achievement in, registering over 40 million voters; operationalising 75,563 polling stations across the country and completing administrative formalities for over 34,000 candidates for legislative elections and 21 candidates for the presidential election.
The Head of SEOM commended the Government of the DRC for taking full financial responsibility in holding national elections and described it as an important milestone in the DRC’s democratic trajectory, and in the growth of any democratic state.
In the Preliminary Statement, SEOM urges CENI to consider enhancing its voter education, particularly with respect to the introduction of new voting technologies. It also urges the Government to consider reviewing the Electoral Law to allow members of the Armed Forces and Congolese National Police to vote in elections.
Other Heads of international observer missions who presented their Preliminary Statements were; His Excellency Dioncoundra Traore, Former President of the Republic of Mali, Head of the African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM); Honourable Professor Joseph Owona, Former Minister of the Republic of Cameroon, Head of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Electoral Observation Mission; Honourable Jean Apollinaire Tsiba, Member of Parliament of the Republic of Congo and Head of the Joint Electoral Observation Mission of the ICGLR Parliament Forum and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region; and Chief Justice (Rtd.) Hamid Mahamoud Hamid, Chairperson of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, Head of the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC).
In their Preliminary Reports, the international observation missions observed that voting was held in a calm and peaceful environment, despite the challenges encountered before and during the polling day.
The release of the Preliminary Statements by SEOM, AUEOM, ICGLR, ECCAS and ECF-SADC was attended by the President of CENI, Mr Corneille Nangaa, Government Officials, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, SADC Ambassadors to the DRC, Director of the Organ on Politics Defence and Security Affairs at SADC Secretariat, Mr Jorge Cardoso who represented the SADC Executive Secretary, members of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC), representatives of political parties and the media.
SEOM is expected to issue its Final Report within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the electoral cycle in accordance with the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015).