A fire overnight at a warehouse in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, has destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes that were due to be used in the Dec. 23 presidential election, a presidential adviser said on Thursday.
Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi told Reuters that 70 percent of the equipment due to be used for voting in Kinshasa, the capital where more than 15 percent of the country’s population lives, had been destroyed in the fire.
Congo’s election commission said in a statement that preparations for the vote would move ahead.
Black smoke hangs over Kinshasa
Ten days ahead of long-awaited presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a fire broke out in an electoral commission building in the capital, Kinshasa.
The electoral commission says they are working to determine the cause and extent of the fire, adding however that the electoral process will continue for now.
The smell of fire has engulfed the city.
The run-up to the vote has seen a wave of violence.
In the past few days, there have been clashes with police at campaign meetings – a number have been injured and some reportedly killed.
Several opposition candidates have called for an investigation into the blaze, expressing concerns about further delays if electoral material was damaged.
A spokesperson for disqualified presidential challenger Moïse Katumbi tweeted this footage of the fire, asking whether it was simply “a stroke of bad luck” or a dark force working against the elections:
UK advises against DR Congo travel
The UK has changed its travel advice to British citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the fire overnight in the capital, Kinshasa.
It now advises against “all but essential travel” to any part of the country.
It has also urged non-essential diplomatic staff in DR Congo to leave the country by 17 December.