Kinshasa, DRC – The presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) scheduled on Sunday has been cancelled and will now be held a week later on December 30.
The country’s election commission on Thursday said it was not prepared to hold the elections following a fire that destroyed voting machines as well as the Ebola outbreak in the east.
“The presidential, legislative and provincial elections will, therefore, take place on December 30, 2018,” head of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI), Corneille Nangaa, said.
Last week, a fire in an election commission warehousedestroyed nearly 80 percent of the voting machines in the capital, Kinshasa.
Nangaa said officials have found enough voting machines for Kinshasa but had to get five million new ballots printed. He appealed to the country’s 46 million voters for calm.
DRC’s elections, postponed repeatedly since 2016, are meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is due to step down after 18 years in power.
The DRC has not seen a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
‘We are fed up’
The cancellation of Sunday’s vote provoked anger among the opposition leaders and students across the sprawling central African country, roughly the size of Western Europe.
Martin Fayulu, 62, from the opposition coalition, Lamuka, and one of the frontrunners, alleged the election commission is trying to keep Kabila in power.
“They tried all kinds of manoeuvres to not have the election, so that Mr Kabila can remain in power forever. But we are fed up,” Fayulu told Al Jazeera.
The University of Kinshasa campus was sealed off by security forces following the announcement of the delay in the elections.
Earlier on Thursday, students of the university had protested in the capital, asking for the polls to be held as scheduled this Sunday.
The campaign this year has been foreshadowed by violence with several opposition supporters killed in clashes with the security forces.