In the DRC, 6 out of 25 candidates for the presidential election of 23 December are declared inadmissible according to the announcement made by the Congolese electoral commission
The former vice-president and one of the main opponents, Jean-Pierre Bemba, are accused of bribing witnesses, former prime ministers Antoine Gizenga, Adolphe Muzito and Samy Badibanga, Jean-Paul Moka-Ngolo and Marie Josée Ifoku.
Out of 25 presidential candidates in the DRC, 19 were selected by the Electoral Commission to examine their validity. For the legislative elections, out of 15,505 applications received, 282 were considered by the CENI as inadmissible.
Eve Bazaiba, the secretary general of MLC, the party of Jean-Pierre Bemba, who had gathered last night with almost all the candidates and other representatives at the headquarters of the party, to react to this announcement made by CENI.
According to RFI, she rebels against the decision. In her eyes, the candidacy of Jean-Pierre Bemba “shake the Kabile to the point of using the CENI to remove him.” She lamented adding that the Minister of Justice sent a letter “with the list of names of people whom Kabila did not want to apply for”.
Now, the party will “use every avenue of law to claim” the right of Jean-Pierre Bemba to stand in the presidential election and take “the people and all national and international opinion to witness”.
The supporters of Jean-Pierre Bemba consider indeed that he had the right to present himself.
True, the former vice president was found guilty by the ICC of witness tampering. Admittedly, the electoral law provides for the invalidation of any candidate condemned by an irrevocable judgment of corruption.
But, for the MLC, corruption and bribing of witnesses are two different offenses in the Congolese penal code. As early as Friday night, a Congolese activist was surprised that the electoral commission was establishing itself in court and interpreting a decision of international justice.
For Eve Bazaiba her candidate “was acquitted totally” and the bribing of a witness is “not included in the electoral law”.
Five other candidates rejected
Marie Josee Ifoku, the only woman on the list of 25 presidential candidates is also part of the flawed, for lack of nationality of origin according to the CENI.
Same reason for the rejection of former Prime Minister Samy Badibanga. He would not have recovered his nationality legally after having lost it by opting for another. An issue that had been raised in 2016 when he was appointed. At the time, the government had assured that the problem had been solved.
Two other former government leaders appointed by Joseph Kabila are also excluded by CENI. Aldophe Muzito for conflict with his party, the Unified Lumumbist Party (PALU) and Antoine Gizenga for lack of signature. The Commission complains that Lumumba’s companion did not complete the various forms when he submitted his application.
The candidacy of Jean-Paul Moka-Ngolo was also rejected by the CENI, which announces that it could not trace the payment of the electoral deposit of 100,000 US dollars.
Declaration and “warning” of the opposition
Rather in the evening, even before the CENI speaks, six presidential candidates have taken the lead. In a statement they warned the Electoral Commission. They asked him not to give in to the political injunctions to exclude certain presidential candidates.
“The Congolese political opposition and the candidates-president of the Republic remind the national and international community that, in accordance with the declaration of 13 August 2018, the resignation of Mr. Kabila to a third mandate unconstitutional was not the end of the fight in the quest for inclusive, transparent, credible and peaceful elections,” says the statement, read by Martin Fayulu, the candidate of the opposition dynamic.
Opposition candidates “are sounding the alarm about the flagrant manipulations under way to empty the ballot of their democratic essence”. The opposition claims indeed to be “in possession of evidence that the power in place, through the Minister of Justice and cadres of the majority in power” gave “injunctions to the CENI” in the purpose of “excluding several opposition candidates from the electoral process”.
Injunctions allegedly given “in order to remove candidates Jean-Pierre Bemba and Felix Tshisekedi” the candidacy of the latter was finally rejected. And this, following the impossibility for Moses Katumbi to submit his candidacy “for reasons legally unfounded”.
The opposition therefore considers that the power seeks “to confiscate the electoral process” and warns Corneille Nangaa, president of the electoral commission “who will suffer only the serious consequences of his actions”.
It finally “demands” the release of the electoral process and launches a “call for the general mobilization of the Congolese people to resist this provocation of too much” from a power qualified as “dictatorial”.
“There was manipulation of the CENI”
On interview with Paul Tshilumbu, spokesperson of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) reacts to the invalidation of several candidates for the presidential election, including that of Jean-Pierre Bemba. He strongly rejected an injustice and manipulation organized by the presidency.
“We sincerely believe that this is an injustice and it is proof that the CENI is not independent. It is subject to the influence of Mr. Kabila,” he told RFI.
To the question of whether, for him, it is clear that the power has directly asked the CENI to remove names from the list of candidates, Paul Tshilumbu is formal: “Absolutely because it has been more than a month since the spokesman for the presidential majority “the majority of Mr Kabila”, in this case Mr André Atundu, had already announced that Mr Bemba would not be a candidate. So, there was already, not only rumours but also verified information that there was manipulation of the CENI to try to invalidate the candidacy of Jean-Pierre Bemba,” he says.