Growing criticism of DRC vote

2011-12-13 09:07

Kinshasa - The chorus of voices calling into question the results from the Democratic Republic of Congo's recent election is growing louder, and on Monday the country's influential clergy as well as the United Nations joined those that are now casting doubt on the victory of President Joseph Kabila.

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, the head of the influential Catholic Church in Congo, broke his silence to voice his concern. The church, which had deployed the largest observation mission, had earlier refused to disclose the results that their observers had tabulated, saying that their role was not political.

"After analysing the results that were made public by the (election commission) this past Friday, December 9 2011, we could not help but conclude that the results are not founded on truth or justice," said Monsengwo on Monday.

He said that the church was willing to mediate the dispute between Kabila, who has been in power for 10 years and who was declared the winner of the November election with 49% of the vote, and long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, came in a distant second with 32% of the nearly 19 million votes cast.

Election commission under pressure

Just 24 hours after the results were published, US observers from the Atlanta-based Carter Centre founded by former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement saying that the vote lacked credibility.

The country's election commission, which is led by a pastor believed to be close to the incumbent, had been under pressure to release results polling station by polling station so that candidates and election monitors could check the numbers being published against what observers had witnessed.

The commission didn't do so immediately, instead releasing preliminary results province by province, amalgamating thousands of voting sites.

It was not until Friday, the day that the final provisional results were released, that the commission gave out a CD to foreign embassies and to observation missions.

David Pottie, a senior observer with the Carter Centre, said that in analysing the detailed results, it became clear that in Kabila's home province, voter turnout was impossibly high, including some districts where 100% of registered voters had cast ballots, an impossibility in this enormous country where less than two percent of the roads are paved. In these same districts in Katanga Province, all - or nearly all - of the votes were cast for the 40-year-old Kabila, an equally unlikely prospect given that 11 candidates were in the race, said Pottie.

Concern expressed

Also on Monday, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, known by its acronym Monusco, issued a statement voicing concern.

"Monusco notes with deep concern the findings of these observer missions relating to the significant irregularities in the management of the results process, in particular the counting and tabulation of the votes," it said. "Monusco strongly urges the Independent National Electoral Commission to undertake a timely and rigorous review of the issues identified by observer missions."

In his first public comments since the start of the election, Kabila told reporters on Monday that there is no reason to doubt the validity of the election.

"The credibility of these elections cannot be put into doubt. Were there mistakes, errors? Definitely," he said. "Definitely. Like in any other election - be it on the continent, or otherwise. But does it put into doubt the credibility of the elections? I don't think so."

While Kabila, controls the army, the 78-year-old opposition leader Tshisekedi controls the street, where he enjoys enormous popularity among the country's impoverished masses. Violence is feared if Tshisekedi orders his supporters to demonstrate. In a telephone interview over the weekend, he said that he was holding off as he waits to see if the international community is able to find a solution to the electoral crisis.

Possible concession

He also said that he rejects the results that were published, and considers himself the newly elected president. Already in London, more than 130 people were arrested at the weekend after Tshisekedi supporters living in Britain led boisterous demonstrations, including a group that stormed the subway, pulling the alarms and causing one of the lines to be temporarily closed.

Although Tshisekedi has said he would not accept a Kenya- or Zimbabwe-style deal, diplomats that have seen him recently say he is looking for a concession from Kabila, possibly the post of speaker of parliament.

Monsengwo said there must be dialogue to avoid a grave crisis in the country and called on all to avoid violence.

"Since the results are provisional and must be confirmed by the Supreme Court, we ask the protesters to appeal, to resort to legal means and to not engage in violence," he said.

The November election was only the second democratic vote in Congo's 51-year history, and the first to be organised by the government rather than by the international community. From the start the vote was plagued by massive technical glitches, including the late arrival of ballots, some of which arrived three days after the vote was supposed to take place.

  • Larry - 2011-12-13 09:33

    Zuma was happy with the elections, which in itself is an indication that something is wrong?

      Joseph Kazadi - 2011-12-13 22:23

      I always look up to south african leadership but after In the drc I'm really desapointed to see our african brothers Ready sacrifice they brothers just because they got interst in that country That bring me into questioning the democracy in south africa itself with info bill going Coruption is at heart of all this greedy leaders. Just because They are unable to do it in south africa they to expand to other African country, it shame country trust south africa any more Look what happen in libya today the relation NTC is Bad just because they fail to support the people when they needed them the most In the name of so call interst they are loosing outn So many refugees In this country they only to reduce flaws to help they Country to be stable but what do they do cause even More trouble to that country. that is desapointement

  • Mohamed - 2011-12-13 17:37

    Can somebody tell which elections were the south african mission observing??? the south african delegation saw everything as okay and on media, is not this an embarrassement from african supposed brothers??

  • Mohamed - 2011-12-13 17:49

    DRC being murdered in the name of democraty. No leader of the civilised nations is saying anything. is the somalisation or islamisation or al qaedation of the country the ultimate solution? if we get there, who will blame who?

      Kegels - 2011-12-13 18:30

      i think that increasin misery of peoples lead them to radicalisation. i wont be suprise to hear that congo become a place of terror...

  • Khabassele - 2011-12-13 18:03

    Zuma as well as other ANC bigwigs have huge mineral interests in the DRC,that is why Zuma claimed aloud that the elections in Congo were fair.The problem he does not know is that Congolese don't like Kabila and are more than determined to chase him from power this time around,no matter whose support Kabila enjoys from african leaders.WE know that ANC supports only dictators in Africa:the late GADDAFI,Mugabe,Dos Santos,Kagame,etc.What a shame for a freedom fighting movement!...

  • Kegels - 2011-12-13 18:27

    as every body can see or hear, kabila is not as popular as south african media were presenting him. tshisekedi , a congolese Mandela need support from good and honest south african people to free his people from the international commetee slavery. congo being a paradise where people live miseries..whoever love freedom and dignity of different people on our planet please join your voice to the crying congolese people and free them from kabila....God bless

  • Paris - 2011-12-13 19:03

    Kabila will not lead DRC for another 5 years.If it happens,it will be over our dead bodies.We know that the ANC has blood of Congolese people because of it leadership greed,but kabila will go,like it or not,and then you`ll see congolese leaving south africa in Numbers heading back home.Frustration leads to extremism,unfortunately it will be too late then.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-14 12:29

    Democracy has never and will never work on the African continent. The current pseudo democracies are nothing more than disguised control mechanisms, which echoes the communist dictatorships of the cold war era. This new perverted for of Democracy will continue to be enforce with fewer and fewer freedoms and rights being available until the Official definition or Democracy is the same as slavery. I just hope the insulated middle class wake up before its to late......but somehow I doubt it.

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