Election Snapshot

Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: 2023 General Elections


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will hold general elections on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, for president of the Republic and national and provincial assembly and municipal positions. This is the first election since the 2018 elections, when former President Joseph Kabila stepped down and Felix Tshisekedi assumed the presidency, allowing for the first peaceful transition of power in DRC history. Since then, several amendments have been introduced to the electoral legal framework, including those that support increased engagement of women, youth, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups across all aspects of the electoral process.

This year, more than 40 million voters in DRC and the diaspora will vote to fill 1,511 seats from a selection of more than 100,000 candidates. The 2023 general elections are an opportunity for the DRC to test the stability of its democratic processes.

Ahead of this important electoral process, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) provides Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Elections in The Democratic Republic of the Congo: 2023 General Elections. 

Learn more about IFES's work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and follow @IFES1987 and @IFESAfrica on Twitter.

Additionally, visit IFES's Election Guide for the most comprehensive and timely verified election information available online.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


The DRC will hold its fourth presidential elections under the country’s 2006 Constitution. The 2018 elections saw the first transfer of power in the DRC’s history, with Félix Tshisekedi emerging as the successor to Joseph Kabila, who led the country for 18 years. Although planned for 2016, the last elections did not occur until 2018, amid a tense political context. After the disputed 2018 elections and ensuing violence, the 2023 elections will be crucial to ensure continued democratic progress in the DRC. 

These elections are the first to include municipal elections in the same cycle as the presidential, National Assembly, and Provincial Assembly elections. They also mark the first time that voters in the diaspora will cast ballots in the presidential election in five pilot countries. The ongoing conflict in parts of eastern DRC has internally displaced a record 6.9 million people, leaving parts of the country insecure and voters in those areas unable to participate in political processes. If citizens deem these elections credible, they have the potential to support the restoration of security and democratic stability. With the country facing numerous political, economic, development, and security challenges, the elections are an opportunity for citizens to select the leader they believe will best protect their interests. 


The general elections will select the president of the Republic, 484 members of the National Assembly, 715 members of Provincial Assemblies, and 311 municipal council members. 

In total, 101,202 candidates are vying for 1,511 open positions across the country at the national, provincial, and municipal levels. 


The DRC’s election management body is the Independent National Electoral Commission (Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante, CENI). The functions of the CENI are outlined in Article 211 of the 2006 Constitution, Law N° 06/006 of March 9, 2006, and Organic Law N° 10/013 of July 28, 2010. These include organizing electoral processes, including voter registration, maintaining the electoral register, overseeing voting operations, counting votes, and announcing preliminary results.

Polling Stations


The president of the DRC is elected through a first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. Under the 2006 Constitution, the president is elected to serve a maximum of two five-year terms. In the FPTP system, voters choose one name from a list of all nominated presidential candidates. The candidate who receives the most votes wins the election.

Members of national and provincial assemblies and municipal officials are elected through direct universal suffrage for renewable five-year terms. Per Article 118 of the electoral law, voting in constituencies where one seat is to be filled is by simple majority; the candidate who receives the highest number of votes is declared elected. Voting in constituencies with two or more seats to be filled is by open list proportional representation with a single preferential vote, using the highest remainder rule.


At the close of the polls, each polling station will count the ballots received there. Valid ballots are those printed by the Dispositifs Électroniques de Vote and cast in ballot boxes by voters. Ballots will be counted in the presence of party agents, observers, journalists, and five voters selected randomly by the president of the polling station. For the first time, the Electoral Law requires all results be posted outside each polling station and tabulation center, as well as on the Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante website. Each polling station will provide copies of the results to the president of the polling center, who in turn will bring the results to the tabulation center located in each electoral district. Tabulation center results are transmitted electronically to CENI headquarters.


Per Article 73 of the 2006 Election Law, any political party or group of political parties that puts forward candidates, or an independent candidate or his or her representative, can challenge election results within three days of the announcement of results by the Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI). Similarly, the results of legislative, provincial, urban, communal, and local elections can be challenged within eight days of the announcement of results by the CENI.
Article 74 of the 2022 Election Law provides for the adjudication of petitions challenging election results at three levels: 

  • The Constitutional Court, for presidential and legislative elections;
  • The Administrative Court of Appeal, for provincial elections; and
  • The Administrative Court, for urban, communal, and local elections.

Under Article 73 of the 2022 Electoral Law, appeals of decisions related to presidential elections must be adjudicated within seven days from the date of referral to the Constitutional Court. All other levels have two months to adjudicate appeals. The decisions of the Constitutional Court are not subject to appeal. 
If appeals are declared inadmissible or unfounded, the final election results are announced by the Constitutional Court (for presidential and legislative elections), the Administrative Court of Appeal (for provincial elections), or the Administrative Court (for urban, communal, and local elections).


The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) currently implements the USAID/DRC–Funded Electoral Integrity Activity (DEIA). This Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening project is implemented in coordination with the International Republican Institute. Following the leadership renewal of the Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) in early 2022, IFES assisted the CENI to develop and adopt a 2022–2026 strategic plan that is anchored in improving the commission’s credibility and service quality, rebuilding electoral stakeholders’ trust in the institution, and greater inclusion of previously marginalized populations. IFES has also assisted the new leadership to relaunch wider-ranging stakeholder dialogue forums. In parallel, IFES is assisting civil society organizations (CSOs), including youth-led, women-led, and disabled peoples’ organizations, to advocate effectively for citizen priorities in legal reforms for timely, credible, and inclusive elections. With IFES’s assistance, CSOs formed the nationally representative Initiative pour les Reformes, la reussite et Viabilité Electorale (iRÊVE Network) to advocate for transparent and inclusive elections in 2023 and beyond. 
Throughout the DEIA, IFES has contributed to improving gender and social inclusion in electoral processes. IFES has remotely trained over 100 women leaders and gender activists on electoral reform advocacy. In addition, IFES produced a comparative report on inclusion practices by African electoral management bodies. Its findings have been widely disseminated among electoral stakeholders. Using the findings, IFES works with the CENI and the DRC’s Ministry for Persons Living with Disabilities to spearhead initiatives for greater inclusion in the 2023 electoral process.


These FAQs reflect decisions made by the Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante as of December 15, 2023, to the best of our knowledge. This document does not represent any IFES policy or technical recommendations. 
These FAQs are made possible by the generous support of the American and United Kingdom people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The information herein is provided by the author(s) and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, FCDO, or the United Kingdom Government.