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DR Congo poll must go on



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Democracy is, indeed, expensive, but the alternative, which is chaos and bloodletting, is even costlier. This would appear to sum up what is going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the country goes to the polls in a few days to elect a successor to President Joseph Kabila. The man has remained at the helm two years after his tenure officially lapsed, and choosing a new leader for the troubled country is crucial.

DRC has, for several decades, been starved of progress despite being a potentially wealthy nation with massive natural resources.

The biggest undoing of this vast country that sits on huge mineral deposits, fertile lands and massive forests has been its troubled politics, a legacy from the early years of independence.

The run-up to the December 30 elections has been marred by an orgy of violence. The poll, which had been scheduled for December 23, had to be postponed for a week following a warehouse fire in Kinshasa that destroyed voting machines and ballot papers. And on Wednesday, elections were put off to March in two troubled regions. However, the electoral commission remains upbeat that the presidential, legislative and provincial elections will go on.

Organising elections for such a vast underdeveloped country is not easy. Hopefully, the elections will be concluded, the presidential verdict announced on January 15 and the new leader sworn in on January 18.

But this means the vote in the troubled regions will not count in the presidential poll. However, it is only 1.2 million votes, whereas the total electoral roll has 44 million.

It’s in the interest of the Central African country that the transition from President Kabila to a new leadership be effected seamlessly to chart the way forward. DRC needs to open a new chapter of peace and national stability for economic progress.