12/02/2011

CONGO: Bags Carrying Congo Ballots Pile Up in Parking Lot

VOA- Thursday, December 1st, 2011


Officials are tallying up votes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after elections that were originally set to last one day but stretched into three because of irregularities.
The vote counting itself ran into some problems Thursday. Witnesses say thousands of plastic bags containing ballots were piled up in a parking lot outside a compilation center in the capital, Kinshasa.
People at the scene say a number of the bags broke open, allowing some ballots to blow away, while other ballots got saturated on the ground, left wet by recent rains.
An official with Congo's Independent National Election Commission told VOA that reports about the ballot problems in the parking lot were “exaggerated.” The official, who asked not to be named, said “everything is back in order.”
The ballots were delivered from more than 66,000 polling stations around the vast Central African country. Voting in the presidential and legislative elections began Monday. Some polls remained open through Wednesday after ballots and voter lists arrived late, or not at all.
President Joseph Kabila is running for re-election against 10 challengers. Three presidential candidates have called for the vote to be annulled.
A fourth opposition candidate, Vital Kamerhe, also demanded annulment but then withdrew the call, saying the vote was good enough despite irregularities.
African Union and other African observers have said the election was successful despite logistical problems.
U.S.-based monitors from the Carter Center reported a range of irregularities and logistical problems.
The presidential poll results are expected before December 6, when President Kabila's term expires.
This is the second time the Democratic Republic of Congo has held multi-party polls since the end of a brutal civil war eight years ago.