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On the surface, the recent protests that have swept across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) surround the potential appointment of Ronsard Malonda as the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

But at the root, there is a fierce struggle for political power that dates back more than a decade. Malonda, the current secretary-general of CENI, was a senior figure involved in running the country’s previous elections in 2006, 2011 and 2018. Critics have accused him of playing a historic role in rigging results in favour of former President Joseph Kabila, who came to power after his father was assassinated in 2001 and stood down last year.

Supporters of the DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi claim that Malonda’s appointment is part of a plan by Kabila, who continues to wield enormous power through his parliamentary majority, control of the army and several cabinet ministries, to interfere with the country’s next elections in 2023.

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