The Congolese election commission announced that it has annulled votes cast for 82 of 101,000 candidates in parliamentary and local elections held in December due to their involvement in alleged fraud and other irregularities that disturbed the general election.
Those barred include candidates for national, provincial, and municipal assemblies, the results of which have yet to be published amid the chaotic aftermath of the December 20 poll, which threatens to further destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa’s second-largest country and a major producer of cobalt.
A statement late on Friday from the CENI election committee did not address the presidential vote that took place on the same day. This handed President Felix Tshisekedi a landslide victory but the opposition has contested the result over widespread electoral irregularities reported by their own and independent monitors.
The commission said it had launched an inquiry after the polls to look into “acts of violence, vandalism and sabotage perpetrated by certain ill-intentioned candidates against voters, their staff, their assets and electoral materials.”
The inquiry has led to the invalidation of the 82 legislative candidacies as well as the full annulment of the elections at all levels in two out of 484 constituencies, it said. A further 16 had already been excluded from the election due to local security issues.
Four acting provincial governors and three government ministers were among the 82 excluded.
The main opposition presidential challengers have called on supporters to protest.
Electoral issues frequently spark instability in Congo, which has been plagued by decades of authoritarian leadership, corruption, and a protracted security crisis in the eastern provinces.
Despite the irregularities, the CENI and the administration declared the last election to be free and fair. These included polling locations that did not open on election day, violent occurrences, defective voting equipment, and other setbacks that resulted in an unplanned extension of voting, the legality of which the main observer mission has questioned.