Congo’s presidential vote is extended as delays and smudged ballots lead to fears about credibility

Voters look for their names outside a polling station in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. Congo headed to the polls Wednesday to vote for president as authorities scrambled to finalise preparations in an election facing steep logistical and security challenges. (AP Photo/Moses Sawasawa)

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Lengthy delays at the polls forced officials on Wednesday to extend voting in Congo’s presidential election as many residents in the mineral-rich West African nation struggled to cast ballots because of steep logistical and security challenges, raising concerns about the integrity of the process.

Polling stations that never opened on Wednesday will conduct voting on Thursday, Denis Kadima, chair of the electoral commission, said on local radio.

Some 44 million people — almost half the population — were expected to vote, but many, including several million displaced by conflict in the vast country’s east, found it difficult to do so. The fighting prevented 1.5 million people from registering to vote.

At stake is the future of one of Africa’s largest nations and one whose mineral resources are increasingly crucial to the global economy. Congo has a history of disputed elections that can turn violent, and there’s little confidence among many Congolese in the country’s institutions.

Source: AP 17 December 2023