Poll delay dims DR Congo's hope for return to normalcy

President Joseph Kabila, waving. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Hopes for a solution to the protracted crises in the DR Congo have diminished further with the national electoral commission CENI ruling out elections before April 2019.

According to BBC Afrique, CENI said in a statement that it needed at least 504 days after registration to finalise all the procedures for the vote to hold after.

The statement followed a meeting between CENI the and civil society representatives on Tuesday.

The vote was initially slated for November 2016, but President Joseph Kabila was allowed to stay in power following negotiations between the government and the opposition that the election takes place before the end of this year.

President Kabila's mandate officially ended last December.

Voter listing started in the vast Kasai region in mid-September, a process the electoral commission said would take at least three more months. The timeline means the vote could not be organised until April 2019 at the earliest.

CENI is expected to release an electoral calendar later this month.

Dozens of people died last year following clashes after President Kabila who has been in office since succeeding his assassinated father in 2001, failed to step down at the end of what was supposed to be his final mandate.

The opposition has accused President Kabila of scheming to cling to power by postponing elections until he could find a way to remove constitutional term limits that prevent him from standing for re-election.

But Kinshasa has argued that the poll delay was due to logistics and financial constraints.

The country of 71 million people has not had a peaceful transfer of power since its independence from Belgium in 1960.

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