Enrollment of Congolese abroad: Was CENI right to refer to the Constitutional Court?

Publication: Policy Brief

At the end of December 2022, the Constitutional Court authorized the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) to proceed with the enrollment of Congolese abroad only in South Africa, Belgium, Canada, the United States of America, and France. Why is this decision controversial?

For the Constitutional Court in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the selection of the five pilot countries for the registration of Congolese living abroad is not discriminatory. This is what came out of its ruling as of December 20, 2022. While this decision remains questionable in substance, it is more its form that poses a problem.

  • Why did the CENI prefer to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court?
  • Were there any other avenues to explore?

In principle, the CENI can only refer to the Constitutional Court when it asks the Court to examine the conformity of its internal regulations with the Constitution. Like any other natural or legal person, it can also do so “for the unconstitutionality of any legislative or regulatory act,” according to the constitution. However, no legislative or regulatory text gives the CENI the possibility of referring to the Constitutional Court for interpretation of the constitution. Only the President of the Republic, the government, the President of the Senate, the President of the National Assembly, one tenth of the members of each parliamentary chamber, the provincial governors, and the presidents of the provincial assemblies are entitled to file petitions with the Constitutional Court for interpretation of the constitution.

Read this analysis note (French-only)

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