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Kinshasa: the Aftermath

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On Friday just after 15h CAT the CENI announced, province by province, the results of DRC’s Presidential Elections, and thus declared Joseph Kabila’s second term as President over main opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi.

This was not without its hiccups. The announcement was due on Tuesday 6 December. Because of delays to counts, logistical problems and violence at polling stations this was delayed 48 hours until Thursday 8 December. On Thursday we were told 18h, then 20h, then 22h, then nothing. On Friday morning we were told 10h, then 11h, then midday, and then we waited for 3 hours.

I watched the results being announced with a group of Congolese men, aged between 23 and 50, from a range of provinces and political alliances. They were all in agreement about one thing – the results were not accurate. Who won is almost a moot point, I think Kabila was probably genuinely re-elected; the problem is by how much. In Kabila strongholds almost 100% of registered voters turned out to vote, where as turnout nationwide was only 58%, and much lower in opposition strongholds. In some areas of Katanga turnout was 100.14% and Kabila won 99.98% of the votes, but in Kinshasa the results from 2,000 polling stations ‘went missing’ amid the chaos. Almost the same number of people voted in each province but the numbers of voters registered by the CENI themselves makes that almost impossible - 3,287,745 in Kinshasa and 4,627,302 in Katanga - and seems very odd when relative populations are compared, 5.6 million Katangans to 10 million Kinois. In Maniema Province, the birthplace of candidate Vital Kamerhe, Kabila again won by a massive majority. The numbers of invalid ballots was huge, each time this figure was read out there were gasps from those around me at how many votes had been lost.

Of course it is only now, from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices in Washington DC, that election observer mission the Carter Centre has decided to declare that the elections ‘lacked credibility’ and that perfect turnout in Kabila strong holds that were not seen in opposition areas are ‘impossible’. However, despite astonishing mistakes with the maths, there was ‘no smoking gun’ to suggest the wrong man won.

Tshisekedi rejects the count saying his UDPS party’s own counts suggest he won 54% and thus he considers himself the elected President. The Supreme Court must ratify the vote on 17 December. It’s going to be an interesting week.

Posted by hobbit1 07:57 Archived in Democratic Republic of Congo Tagged election elections drc kabila kinshasa katanga

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