Martin Fayulu, the leading opposition candidate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, says his party would not participate in upcoming elections if the voter list is not redone and audited, claiming fraud.
Fayulu, leader of the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party, came in second to President Felix Tshisekedi in the last election in 2018. His party said he won, and he unsuccessfully challenged the results in court.
Millions of Congolese will go to the polls for legislative and presidential elections on December 20. Tshisekedi is expected to seek a second term.
“Everyone knows that the voter identification and registration process in which we participated took place in total opacity, a proof of the planning and execution of fraud,” Fayulu said at a news conference in Kinshasa on Monday.
“We have decided not to submit the candidacies of our members at all levels of elections as long as the electoral list is not redone transparently and audited by an external firm,” he said.
Congo’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), hired five international experts in May to review its electoral list, and they declared it reliable.
The lead-up to the polls has been tense already with several opposition candidates complaining of delays and issues with the electoral process that they say disadvantage them.
Security forces fired tear gas and fought running battles in the streets when anti-government protesters demonstrated last month against alleged irregularities in voter registrations.
Conflict in the DRC’s volatile east presented obstacles to registration in those areas. Elections may be difficult to hold in the region, where more than 120 rebel groups have been active for years. One, them M23, has displaced hundreds of thousands of people within the past two years.