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Hundreds of Congo's registered voters may be fake

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A report has surfaced in Kinshasa suggesting that hundreds of thousands of voters in the official register may be fake. While many of these records may just be technical glitches, diplomats who have seen the document and follow the electoral process closely suggest this may be a sign of fraud.

For several weeks now, accusations have been flung back and forth between the election commission and the opposition about the voter register, a database of around 32 million voters that identifies those eligible to vote in the November elections. The stakes are potentially huge, as if the register is rigged, it will be difficult for observers at the polling stations to identify fraud.

The report is a confidential document written in early August by Zetes, a Belgian company contracted by the Congolese government to issue biometric voters cards. They conducted preliminary samples of the voter register to see how many doublons – voters who show up twice in the system – there may be in the database. According to two separate diplomats who had seen the document, Zetes found the following number of doublons:

These levels are far higher that those announced by the election commission Daniel Mulunda Ngoy, who said that 119,000 double registrations had been identified.

The Zetes report, which was issued in early August, says that there are different types of doublons. The most damning type, which they suggested based on their sampling was not negligible, are the doublons binaires and vrai doublons, which would constitute fraud. Zetes concluded itself that the presence of these voters in the register is evidence of manipulation. It is, however, not clear how many of these fake voter IDs were issued.

It is also important to note that removing these doublons would not eliminate other types of fraud, such as the registration of children or foreigners.

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