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Voting Chaos: DR Congo Election Marred by Protest & Accusations of Fraud

The long-awaited and highly contested presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was held this week, marred by protests and delays, as the opposition alleged fraud. The election was aimed at ending President Joseph Kabila’s nearly 18 year rule and usher in a much needed change in the nation. The election, which began on December 30th, had its fair share of challenges, as protestors took to the streets to vent their anger as delays and miscounted ballots were reported. The election which was delayed due to logistical and organizational issues, highlights the deep struggles of the DRC to move towards democracy. Mismanagement of electoral materials, including ballots, occurred in the process making it harder for people to cast a valid ballot. Furthermore, opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, has alleged fraud committed by the ruling party and their candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, including the illegal use of Zimbabwean mercenaries to intimidate voters. The DRC witnessed a historically high number of participants in the election, and with allegations of fraud, opposition leaders have asked for a manual recount of the votes as they fear the election results will not reflect the will of the people. The election has sparked extensive unrest and violence nationwide, leading to the several deaths throughout the country. In response to the violence, the DRC government has deployed security forces to exert control over the situation and to protect the nation from troublemakers. Reports from international and local observers of electoral irregularities and the criticism of the electoral process by the international bodies further illustrate the deep difficulties of the DRC in holding a free and fair presidential election. The results of the election are yet to be declared, however, in spite of the chaos and disruption, the election still stands as a beacon of hope for the people of DRC. The world is watching as the nation anxiously awaits the results of the election.