Congolese Electoral Commission Postpones Vote Dates Second Time

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission extended the period for politicians to submit their candidacy for the election of governors and vice-governors in 21 new provinces, the second postponement since announcing the calendar in February.
The delay reflects the challenge the government faces overseeing a program in which it will hold six elections over a period of 14 months and the redrawing of provincial boundaries at the same time in the central African nation.
“The CENI notes that the process for the creation of new provinces faces a number of constraints,” National Independent Electoral Commission Vice President Andre Moungwe Songo said in an e-mailed statement Aug. 21. “The CENI will study the ways and means of harmonizing the electoral calendar to make it compatible with the process of establishing the new provinces.’
Opposition leaders have expressed concern that the redrawing of provincial boundaries and the election program is part of a ruling-party strategy to prolong President Joseph Kabila’s mandate. Opposition parties argue that the government may use associated delays in both processes to justify the postponement of the presidential election planned for Nov. 27, 2016, or a constitutional amendment to allow Kabila to seek a third term.
Congo’s 2006 constitution, which marked the end of a transitional government after nearly a decade of civil war, requires the nation to increase the number of provinces. Until now the government has repeatedly postponed the move, citing logistical, financial and security concerns.
The electoral commission had already adjusted the timetable for the gubernatorial elections once. On July 28, it announced the postponement of the vote from July 31 to Oct. 6 and delayed the closing date for candidates to Aug. 21.

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