Congo election chief promises ‘rebrand’ amid concerns over elections

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The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission promised to hold an inclusive vote in December during a “rebranding” tour of the United States that aimed to dispel concerns about the body’s past record.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is organising  the December 20 presidential, legislative and regional elections in Africa’s second largest country, which is struggling to contain a myriad of armed groups and a rebellion.

CENI is undergoing “rebranding” to show people it has changed since past elections that were marred by irregularities and violence, CENI president Denis Kadima told Reuters in an interview in Washington.

“CENI has a very bad reputation. The 2011 elections, followed by the 2018 elections, have left many people so disappointed with the institution,” said Kadima. “It will be an improved process – in terms of inclusiveness first of all.”

He cited, as an example, that some of the 24 presidential candidates were in exile or barred from participating in 2018.Critics were unfairly focused on the negatives, Kadima said.

Kadima, who was appointed in 2021, said observers from groups including the US-funded Carter Center and the European Union were expected to monitor the elections.