Fresh DRC election crisis looms

2011-12-29 13:15
Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential vote dispute seems to have fizzled out with minimal damage, but the country may have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire of a fresh crisis over legislative polls.

The widespread violence many feared when incumbent Joseph Kabila was declared the winner earlier this month of a fraud-tainted November 28 presidential vote never happened.

Incidents did occur but threats of mass protests by supporters of frustrated challenger Etienne Tshisekedi were contained and a wider flare-up averted.

However another election, for the fractious country's parliament, was held the same day and the results have yet to be released.

The CENI polling body last week announced it was suspending the publication of provisional results trickling in from across the vast nation to await the arrival of US and British experts meant to guarantee the tally's transparency.

"We have to work together to avoid the incomprehension" that prevailed when the first results for the controversial presidential poll were released, CENI vice chairman Jacques Djoli said.

It then lifted the suspension on Wednesday, and said the vote count would resume without the foreign experts, sending a dubious message.


The sequence has added to the confusion among a population still baffled by the swearing-in ceremony Tshisekedi, who proclaimed himself the people's president after the vote, organised in his private home's backyard last week.

The fiery 79-year-old opposition leader had been prevented from staging a rival inauguration in Kinshasa's main stadium by police stopping his supporters in their tracks with tear gas.

"The authorities have contained the crisis born of the presidential election with discreet but effective repression," said an expert with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank.

"The opposition didn't take its chance when it failed to produce hard evidence that massive fraud did indeed take place."

The international community expressed its displeasure over the conduct of the election and tallying by largely snubbing Kabila's inauguration, attended by only one other head of state: Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Kinshasa's Western partners accepted the result, nonetheless, but while Kabila looked like burying any challenge to his legitimacy, the election crisis has lingered on through the equally contested legislative poll.

"It's exactly the same robbery as for the presidential vote," Tshisekedi's top aide Albert Moleka said. "The electoral process no longer has any credibility, nor does the CENI."

Results from only around 40 counting centres out of the country's 1 469 have been compiled, but the polling body is already being flooded with challenges from opposition candidates.

Technical assistance

Faced with the European Union's threat to turn off the aid tap if efforts were not made to improve the standard of the counting process, Kabila's regime invited foreign experts to provide "technical assistance".

"It's a little strange to invite experts only for the legislative polls. Both elections took place the same day in the same polling stations. They cannot be treated separately," Moleka argued.

But the British and US experts have yet to arrive, their mandate remains unclear and the legal deadline of January 13 to announce the results is closing in fast, with a lot of work still to be done to split the assembly's 500 seats between 19 000 candidates.

"If the experts really get involved and there are enough of them, we may be able to save the parliamentary election's results," said Thomas Luhaka, a lawmaker from the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo, the main opposition party in parliament.

"There could be a reshuffle of the political landscape," he predicted. "One scenario is that some parties in the ruling coalition could join us and form a new majority."

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  joseph kabila  |  etienne tshisekedi  |  drc  |  central africa  |  drc elections
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

6 reasons Boks won’t botch it
Fiji far too strong for Uruguay
Burger hopes for elusive World Cup win
As it happened: Fiji 47-15 Uruguay
Traffic Alerts

Relationships and significant connections may play an important role in your day today. Let the warmth of the Leo moon inspire more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.