Can electronic voting machine be trusted?

DRC and Russia

DRC and Russia

Still at an informal meeting that was held at the UN Security Council on February 12, 2018, where Congo was represented by its Foreign Minister She Okitundu and the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) President Corneille Nangaa, the US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that the DRC’s electoral commission’s decision to use an electronic voting system for the first time without it ever being tested in DRC poses “enormous risk” and “has the potential to seriously undermine the credibility of elections”, therefore the United States has no appetite to support it.

Nangaa, rejecting US’s criticism, said his commission, the CENI, expected support from its partners — “not resistance and negative actions towards our efforts.”[1]

Instead of objectively considering US’s constructive criticism, Nangaa appeared to be angered by such criticism. The anger may have emanated from Congo government’s desperate need for the national and the international communities to just buy into what may appear to be an intention to rig elections.

The CENI’s call to use electronic machines in Congo is extraordinary, especially considering the government’s aversion to use technology to (at least) improve administration and fiscal processes, combat fraud and organized crimes. These voting machines are a mystery to the majority of the citizens, as they have never been tested and agreed on as the best voting system to use. He also made claims that if the machines were rejected, elections would be delayed by a further 6 months. However, the machines were never mentioned in the calendar that he made public last year. [2]

It is worth noting that the CENCO raised similar concerns with that of Nikki Haley when they stated that, ‘We are puzzled that the project of the “voting machine”, launched by the CENI, lacks unanimous support of the political class and does not reassure the population. This bodes the challenge of the results.’ In order to dissipate all suspicions surrounding the “voting machine”, they recommended that the CENI subject the electronic voting machines for certification to national and international expertise.[3]

Also adding their voice against the use of the voting machine are a number of major opposition parties, including the UNC (Union pour la Nation Congolaise), the MLC (Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo), and the AR (L’Alternance pour la République)[4]. The UDPS (L’Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social) requested more clarity on the machine by handing in 45 questions to the CENI to respond before it makes its decision to whether accept or reject the use of the voting machine [5]. The newly formed coalition “Ensemble pour le Changement” calls the CENI’s voting machine an election “rigging machine”.[6]

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[1] US tells DR Congo to scrap electronic voting, https://citizen.co.za/news/news-africa/1816839/drcongo-politics-vote-un-us-diplomacy/[2] Calendrier électoral : Décision n°065/CENI/BUR/17 du 05 Novembre 2017 portant publication du calendrdier des élections en RDC, http://www.ceni.cd/articles/calendrier-electoral-decision-n065-ceni-bur-17-du-05-novembre-2017-portant-publication-du-calendrdier-des-elections-en-rdc[3] Dans une déclaration, les Evêques s’interrogent : « Pourquoi tant de morts ? », http://www.diacenco.com/dans-une-declaration-les-eveques-sinterrogent-pourquoi-tant-de-morts/[4] Elections en RDC : l’AR opposée à l’usage de la machine à voter,https://www.radiookapi.net/2018/02/28/actualite/en-bref/elections-en-rdc-lar-opposee-lusage-de-la-machine-voter[5] Polémique sur l’usage de la machine à voter : voici les 45 questions posées par l’UDPS à la CENI, https://7sur7.cd/new/2018/03/polemique-sur-lusage-de-la-machine-a-voter-voici-les-45-questions-posees-par-ludps-a-la-ceni/#SSKswxchCOxS2Gqx.99[6] RDC : Moïse Katumbi sur orbite présidentielle, http://afrique.lepoint.fr/actualites/rdc-moise-katumbi-sur-orbite-presidentielle-13-03-2018-2202105_2365.php

 

Dominic Kitambala Luwi

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