US vote experts due to visit DRC

2011-12-28 07:37

US election experts will likely travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo early next month to advise on the vote count for November parliamentary polls, a State Department official said.

The African country’s electoral commission said on Monday it had halted the vote count for November 28 parliamentary elections until experts arrived from the United States and Britain, but the process was due to resume Wednesday.

The US Agency for International Development is handling the monitors issue, a State Department official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The agency is discussing the provision of elections experts with several well-regarded organisations and expects that a team will arrive in Kinshasa during the first week of January,” the official said.

The official did not say where the monitors will come from but US organisations like the Carter Center, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute have monitored elections worldwide.

Faced with many claims of vote-rigging, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s independent national electoral commission suspended the compilation of election results on December 21.

The commission said it wished “to guarantee the transparency and credibility” of the process while waiting for “international technical support”.

Some 19 000 candidates were standing for the 500 seats in the National Assembly of the huge central African country, which in 2003 began to emerge from massive back-to-back wars.

“We must work together to avoid the situation of incomprehension” that marked the presidential poll, which was also held on November 28, electoral commission’s vice-president Jacques Djoli said.

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila was declared the winner, with 48.95% of the votes, beating veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi, who took 32.33%.

Kabila was sworn back into office last Tuesday, while Tshisekedi, who strongly contests his defeat, had himself sworn in by his aides and followers at his Kinshasa home last Friday.

The results of the parliamentary polls are due to be announced on January 13.

The United States said earlier this month that the elections were “seriously flawed,” and urged the Congolese authorities to review the results openly and transparently.

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