This platform is an initiative of five Congolese civil society organisations: the Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ), Action for Transparent and Peaceful Elections (AETA), Filimbi, Congolais Débout, and Fight for Change (Lucha).

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Condition #8: a reliable electoral register

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-> Producing a reliable and consensual electoral register

With registration completed and the law on the distribution of seats promulgated, why are we still talking about a reliable and consensual register? This register cost hundreds of millions of dollars to compile and was produced with a degree of opacity. It was used as one of the main reasons for postponing the election date from December 2017 to December 2018. But the high duplicate rate, disparity between the provinces, the unreliable methods used to consolidate and clean the register, the audit carried out after the law on seat distribution was voted in, etc., all went to show amply that, in spite of the means and the time dedicated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni), the electoral register was not produced with professionalism, rigour and determination.

Today, the essential issue is to ascertain how the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) intends to react to the recommendations of the audit conducted by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). This is true despite the political conclusion which alludes to the fact that the register is perfectible. Especially since General Siaka Sangaré, head of the OIF mission, said in an interview that if the recommended measures are not implemented, he cannot guarantee the register’s reliability. This is because the electoral register today contains almost 17% of registered voters without fingerprints, i.e. nearly 18 million voters who, alone, can seal the outcome of the election in a single round. Blank voter cards that have disappeared into the blue and Ceni’s president who, instead of seeking to correct the many failings, merely claims that there is no such thing as a perfect register. The problem is that the electoral register in the DR Congo is not only imperfect, but unfit for free and transparent elections.

Two factions are now clashing around the file. On one hand, the government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) maintain that the register is reliable and everything must go ahead regardless. For them, those who criticize the register are afraid of elections and are seeking excuses to postpone them. On the other, the opposition and civil society believe that Ceni must imperatively implement the recommendations of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) to clean up the register. In practical terms, opposition parties demand the removal of the 17 million voters without fingerprints.

The future is grim. Our organisations feel that the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) does not want to pay heed and prefers to force the issue through with the support of the regime in place and go ahead with the elections based on the unreliable register. We also wonder whether the opposition will drive its demands home or whether we are only seeing a political strategy to harm the Ceni while it actually intends to take part in the elections despite the register, which it itself qualifies as corrupt. We consider the way the political class casually deals with an issue so essential to the integrity of the electoral process deplorable.

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