A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

Kinshasa: the Aftermath

overcast 27 °C

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 Comments (0)

Actual Results Day in Kinshasa

sunny 30 °C

Today is actually Results Day.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of President Kabila’s inauguration and under the constitution he is unable to remain as President for longer than 5 years – that run out in a matter of hours. For obvious reasons it is not ideal for DRC to be sans President but particularly because the President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces – an uncontrolled FARDC is not what anyone wants.

The CENI will announce delayed results from their office on the Boulevard 30 juin this evening at 2000h [8pm to civilians] and with almost 90% of votes counted Kabila is ahead with 49% of the vote to Etienne Tshisekedi’s 33.3%. The opposition has already said that they will not accept the results because of widespread fraud, violence, intimidation and huge delays to voting in opposition strong-holds. President Kabila has said that he would accept defeat but that if he is re-elected he will not accept any challenges to his position. It’s gearing up to be an interesting time.

Not that anyone from outside DRC would know anything about it. The international media has been wildly disappointing in reporting in this period – I have seen the same 3 photos circulating on all the major media websites for over a week and the same 26 second report on a loop on all the major news channels from here to Australia. It’s enough to give one the feeling that the world doesn’t care about DRC – shouldn’t have held elections at the same time as Egypt.

Posted by hobbit1 08:13 Archived in Democratic Republic of Congo Tagged elections drc kabila kinshasa Comments (0)

Results Day in Kinshasa

overcast 31 °C

Today is Results Day.

After weeks of security planning, meetings and radio checks we were all ready to lock-down ahead of the election results today, and we headed to the supermarket on Saturday morning to do some last minute hibernation shopping. Imagine my surprise to be approached on the Boulevard 30 juin by a man offering to sell me print-outs of the election results. The CENI is not supposed to officially announce results until today but all weekend they have been releasing partial results from each province in an attempt to counter the false results being published by almost everyone. And it looks like President Kabila is coming out on top; 46% to Tshisekedi’s 36%, with Kamerhe in 3rd place with 7%, in the 60% of nation-wide results released. It seems to be much of the same as in 2006 with Kabila taking huge majorities in the Eastern Provinces of Katanga, North and South Kivu, Maniema and Orientale whilst Tshisekedi is winning by a comfortable margin in Kinshasa and East and West Kasai but not enough to counter Kabila’s overwhelming wins in the east.

Tshisekedi’s UDPS party have already said they do not accept the partial results as an accurate reflection of the will of the Congolese people and although President Kabila has said he would accept defeat he has also said that he ‘will not tolerate any threats to his power’ in the event that he does win. The international community is sufficiently worried. They have held meetings with the President and opposition at their homes to try to avoid widespread violence in Kinshasa, where Tshisekedi is expected to win a comfortable majority and his supporters are unlikely to take kindly to an overall Kabila win. The Catholic Church of Congo had 30,000 election observers at more than 25% of the voting centres throughout the country, more than any other observer missions, but have declined to release their own estimates from exit-polling saying ‘it is not their role’ – presumably because their observers, and the entire organisation, are Congolese not internationals, and have to live under whichever Government is eventually installed.

An estimated 3,000 Kinois have crossed over to River to the RoC side ahead of results, a curfew has been imposed in Mbuyi-Mayi, an opposition stronghold, to limit protests and units of the Republican Guard have been deployed in Lubumbashi, Katanga Province to keep order after 3 men were killed on Election Day.

The streets of Kinshasa are empty, for now.

Posted by hobbit1 00:22 Archived in Democratic Republic of Congo Tagged elections drc kabila kinshasa Comments (0)

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