Reports say elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo – due to take place on Sunday – may be postponed for a week, after electronic voting machines were destroyed in a suspected arson attack on a warehouse last week.

A senior electoral official from the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) but speaking on condition of anonymity, said both the presidential and legislative polls could be delayed.

President Joseph Kabila is scheduled to step down after nearly 18 years in power following the elections – which are already two years overdue.

According to CENI, nearly 8 000 of some 10 000 voting terminals for the capital Kinshasa were destroyed in the warehouse blaze last Wednesday.

Around 11 percent of the country’s 44 million registered voters live in the city.

Opposition candidates last week suggested the government could have been behind the fire, to use as a pretext to again delay the vote.

A “seven-day postponement” is being discussed, the CENI official said on Wednesday, as efforts are made to obtain replacement machines.

“We are not going to ask for anyone’s opinion, even that of the head of state,” the source insisted, adding that a formal decision may be announced on Thursday.

The possible election postponement comes as problems have piled up ahead of the December 23 vote, with violence at electoral rallies, inter-ethnic conflict, militia attacks in the east and an Ebola outbreak.

-News24/AFP