The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) decided to close all its borders with neighboring Rwanda on Wednesday as Congolese citizens cast their votes in the presidential election. The government cited security concerns and the aim to ensure a peaceful voting process as reasons for the border closure.
Armed security personnel were deployed at major border entries to prevent people or vehicles from crossing between the two countries. Additionally, flights at Goma International Airport in Goma City, North Kivu province, have been suspended.
Tensions between DR Congo and Rwanda are high. DR Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels, who have been involved in conflicts in Masisi, Rutshuru, and Nyiragongo territories.
However, Rwanda denies these accusations. Approximately 44 million people are expected to participate in the voting process, as reported by the country’s electoral commission. Delays in the start of voting were reported in various parts of the country, particularly in Goma, Bukavu, Beni, Lubumbashi, and Tshikapa. Malfunctions with voting biometric machines were also recorded.
Denis Kadima, the president of the Electoral Commission (Céni), assured the public of the transparency of the electoral process. The territories of Rutshuru and Masisi were excluded from voting due to the insurgency of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels.
Additionally, countries from the East African Community were barred from participating in election observation over concerns of potential influence on the exercise. The election features 18 candidates vying against the incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi (running as candidate number 19), who seeks his second term.
Seven other candidates have withdrawn from the race. Notably, the primary competition is anticipated among Tshisekedi, Moïse Katumbi, and Martin Fayulu.