Congo fire destroys thousands of voting machines for presidential election


A fire overnight at a warehouse in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes that were due to be used in the December 23 presidential election, a presidential adviser said on Thursday (December 13).

The fire destroyed 70 percent of the equipment due to be used for voting in Kinshasa, the capital where more than 15 percent of Democratic Republic of Congo’s population lives, according to the adviser.

Fire fighters were busy putting out the remnants of the fire on Thursday as thick smoke continued to rise from the warehouse and nearby burnt out vehicles.

The Kinshasa police chief said forensic police were on site to investigate. The President of Congo’s Electoral Commission (CENI), Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo, was also seen meeting with army officers near the warehouse site.

A presidential adviser said preparations for the vote, which could mark the country’s first peaceful transfer of power, would go ahead and voting machines from elsewhere in the country would be recalled to use in Kinshasa.

The vote to replace President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, was initially due to take place in 2016 but has been repeatedly delayed due to logistical and security problems.

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