DR CONGO: Concerns Raised over Resignation of Electoral Commission President

KINSHASA OCTOBER 13 2015 (CISA) – The resignation of Fr Apollinaire Malu-malu as President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) has raised questions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is about to experience a busy electoral calendar.

The Center for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO) in North Kivu (in the east of the Country), expressed its concern that the resignation of Fr Malu-malu could affect the election calendar, reported Fides.

“Representatives of religious confessions of the DRC to hold an emergency meeting to appoint the successor of Fr Malu-malu as soon as possible,” The CEPADHO said in a statement.

Fr Malu-malu announced his resignation on October 11 for health reasons and the opposition fears that with his resignation, outgoing President Kabila might influence the CENI (which should be a non-partisan body) through the first Vice President of the Commission.

Samy Badibanga who heads the main opposition alliance in parliament credited Fr Malu-malu for the work he did during the 2006 election — DR Congo’s first free poll since the country’s independence in 1960 and said “Fr Malu-Malu was CENI’s most qualified expert,” and warned that his resignation “will complicate things” in the countdown to next year’s polls.

In 2013 the priest received canonical sanctions by the Congolese Bishops’ Conference for violating the provision prohibiting priests to actively participate in political parties and associations of political nature, as well as the management of state institutions, at all levels, in charge of organizing elections.

The resignation comes as the country prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections due in November 2016.

The constitution bars President Kabila from seeking a third elected five-year term at the end of his mandate late next year, but he has yet to comply with opposition demands to publicly state that he will not to run again.

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