Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Document may suggest fraud in the voter register

A report has surfaced in Kinshasa suggesting that hundreds of thousands of voters in the official register  may be fake. While many of these records may just be technical glitches, diplomats who have seen the document and follow the electoral process closely suggest this may be a sign of fraud.


For several weeks now, accusations have been flung back and forth between the election commission and the opposition about the voter register, a database of around 32 million voters that identifies those eligible to vote in the November elections. The stakes are potentially huge, as if the register is rigged, it will be difficult for observers at the polling stations to identify fraud.


The report is a confidential document written in early August by Zetes, a Belgian company contracted by the Congolese government to issue biometric voters cards. They conducted preliminary samples of the voter register to see how many doublons - voters who show up twice in the system - there may be in the database. According to two separate diplomats who had seen the document, Zetes found the following number of doublons:


Bandundu - 278,039, or 13.68% of all voters
Equateur - 201, 543, or 12.69%
Orientale - 198,881, or 5.47%
Kinshasa - 22,466, or 0.87%

These levels are far higher that those announced by the election commission Daniel Mulunda Ngoy, who said that 119,000 double registrations had been identified. 

The Zetes report, which was issued in early August, says that there are different types of doublons. The most damning type, which they suggested based on their sampling was not negligible, are the doublons binaires and vrai doublons, which would constitute fraud. Zetes concluded itself that the presence of these voters in the register is evidence of manipulation. It is, however, not clear how many of these fake voter IDs were issued. 

It is also important to note that removing these doublons would not eliminate other types of fraud, such as the registration of children or foreigners. 

Even if all of these fake voters are technical glitches, at the very least it appears that the voter registration process has resulted in the gerrymandering of electoral districts, as Kinshasa has far fewer doublons than other provinces. This is confirmed by the fact that only 92% of expected voters were registered in Kinshasa, as compared with 110% in Equateur and 109% in Katanga. Because the voter register was not audited before the amendment to the electoral law - that determines how many parliamentary seats there are per district - was passed, this would imply that the population of Kinshasa will  be underrepresented in the national assembly. 

According to the same Zetes document, it would take them until October to audit out all of the doublons. That would have caused for a serious delay in the electoral process, as the electoral amendment had to be passed in early August in order for elections to take place on November 28. 

Regardless of how skewed the parliamentary distribution of seats is, it remains crucial to audit the voter register. This past week, there was conflicting messages coming out of the electoral commission with regards to an audit. First, the election commissioner announced that five members of the political opposition would be allowed to access their database. (According to some observers, none of those put forward by the opposition, however, have the necessary technical expertise to carry out such an audit). Then, just a day later, he said that both sides of the political spectrum - the governing coalition and the opposition - would have to agree on an audit. Kabila's majority prompted said that they didn't think an audit was necessary, thereby preventing the opposition from gaining access to the database. 

When contacted by diplomats and journalists, Zetes and UN electoral officials dismissed the report, saying that the glitches were technical and not a major problem. 

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do we have some idea as to what CENI’s anti-fraud procedures are and what happens when it is uncovered?

So, as but a simple example, as a long time poll worker here in my country in the US, if by chance we come across someone registered twice (county election bodies purge rolls every year so this is rare but does happen) this is the procedure:

- six weeks prior to an election we either call or mail the voter
- in this communication, we inform the voter to physically come to the county election office so as to ascertain their person
- if said person doesn’t come in, or request a later date if out of the country (mainly military active duty members stationed abroad) by the end of the six weeks they are purged from the rolls.

These procedures have been in place since the early 20th century and were reforms brought about due to the rank voter rigging that plagued elections in the Old West and urban political machines in the Northeast, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Thus, to ask this one more time, does anyone know what CENI’s anti-fraud procedures are and what happens when they are uncovered? One requires that they diligently search for fraud and the other requires that they act on fraud. Both are key and its not clear from this blog or my own research from Congolese friends on the ground what are the clear processes for detecting and acting on fraud.

If you know,Jason, please share this with your readers. It is crucial this become known and very soon.

Anonymous said...

The UN (and Carter Center) had the same non-committal response to documented electoral fraud during the Sudanese national elections and South Sudanese self-determination referendum. It raises issues (including the potential waste of millions of dollars on their presence in-country) when they, as a small group of international elites, determine that supporting a flawed electoral exercise is more important than citizens' exercise of their fundamental civil and political rights- when they are the ones sent to raise the alarm when these fundamental rights are violated in an electoral contest.

Rich said...

Jason –

I am a bit puzzled by the way you have presented things in this post.

1. Ref # "Zetes, a Belgian company contracted by the Congolese government..."

Are you sure Zetes is a Belgian company?

I may be wrong and please correct me if that is the case but as far as I am aware Zetes is a UK company and not a Belgian one.

2. You are presenting allegations that read like facts in the body of your text.

Ref # "The report is a confidential document written in early August by Zetes, a Belgian company contracted by the Congolese government ..."

You then went on through lengthy and unconfirmed details without mentioning even once that this is all ELLEGED and not CONFIRMED before concluding that, I quote,

"When contacted by diplomats and journalists, Zetes and UN electoral officials dismissed the report, saying that the glitches were technical and not a major problem..."

The other point is that, every entry that lead to the issue of an electoral card must have a unique finger print (the owner’s finger print) to go with, I wonder how you can generate then duplicate more than 500 thousands bogus finger prints in a system that is designed to automatically detect then cancel or flag as error any duplicate!

To me, this reads rather speculative than informative.

To finish, I would like to confirm that we are all very keen to see an as transparent election as possible and that any well documented and substantiated allegation of fraud must be thoroughly investigated and corrected. However, we also need to know that fraud tentative during elections is not exclusive to, nor an invention of, the DRC. We all know that even in so called 'old democracies' there have been and there are still happening cases of electoral fraud. So, we just need to keep our cool and put things into perspectives when framing our expectations on what the DRC should do or must be.

Anonymous (September 27, 2011 3:31 PM) This is what the electoral law (LOI N°11/003 DU 25 JUIN 2011 MODIFIANT LA LOI N° 06/006 DU 09 MARS 2006 PORTANT ORGANISATION DES ELECTIONS PRESIDENTIELLE, LEGISLATIVES, PROVINCIALES, URBAINES, MUNICIPALES ET LOCALES) says :

Section 9 :

Dispositions finales

Article 34 :

Aux fins de la constitution du fichier électoral national, si lors de la vérification des listes électorales le Bureau de la Commission Electorale Indépendante constate qu’une personne est inscrite plus d’une fois ou sur plus d’une liste, il peut décider :

1°. s’il s’agit d’une simple erreur matérielle, de modifier le fichier pour que l’électeur ne soit inscrit qu’une seule fois et sur une seule liste conformément à l’article 4 de la Loi n° 04/028 du 24 décembre 2004 ;

2°. s’il s’agit d’un geste volontaire, de rayer le nom de la personne du fichier national et de dénoncer le geste afin que la personne soit poursuivie conformément à l’article 45 de la Loi n° 04/028 du 24 décembre 2004.

De plus, s’il qu’une modification n’apparaît pas au fichier électoral national à la suite d’une décision du président du Centre d’Inscription ou du tribunal, il modifie la liste pour se conformer à cette décision.

Les Centres d’Inscription doivent disposer d’une copie des présentes mesures pour en permettre la consultation par le public.

Rich

Jason Stearns said...

@Rich -

Thanks for the comment.

According to their website and news articles, Zetes in based in Belgium and listed in the stock exchange there. http://www.zetes.com/en/contact-us?subject=About+Zetes.

In the article, I do not confirm that there was fraud, I relay what was written in the Zetes document, of which I have seen a partial copy and the content of which has been confirmed to me by two separate diplomatic sources. So I don't think the existence or the content of the report is alleged or unconfirmed - I think these are facts. How one interprets this report, however, is subjective - I make it clear that the report does not confirm fraud, but that it does say that there was manipulation of the database.

I am not an expert in biometric IDs, so I will not speculate on how to fake an ID and to purge one from the system. I do know that there are ways of overriding the database, but the very fact that they were able to identify such a large number of doublons suggests that the system works. They also said that it would take a long time (until October) to clear out these doublons - again, I don't know why it takes so long.

The report is controversial and raises as many questions as answers. But I thought the questions should be asked. If anybody else has any clarifications in this regard, I would appreciate it.

In the meantime, I will see if I can obtain an electronic copy of the report to post.

Anand said...

Jason -

Is there any speculation as to who (specifically what groups, parties, individuals etc.) are responsible for this alleged fraud? Is the focus mostly on the incumbants. It also sounds like Zetes itself has a somewhat self contradictory take on the matter. If they are suggesting the "damning type" of doublons are not negligible and simultaneously suggest that the "glitches were not a major problem," then there seems to be some incongruence. A Belgium based company overseeing potential fraud in Congo, ironic...

Anand

Anonymous said...

Having now fully read the Electoral Law it is beyond amazing the lack of complete foresight on the part of Congolese parliamentarians.

No where in the bill does it state, with definitively, how CENI is to fund future elections. Not a word.

Did anyone bother to think that future elections would occur? ANYONE??!!

Sweet Jesus in heaven please save the Congolese from these predatory, decadent, corrupt,vile, and incompetent elites.

Bryce

Anonymous said...

@ Rich

On your point about the possibilities of duplications, first a clarification about your assumption and then a real world example.

To be crystal clear, duplications can occur in a biometric system of voter registration that is further databased on a computer network. On function- the finger printing- and the other- the databasing- are entirely separate and only “communicate” via the software. Generally speaking, most programs are Java-based with the systems used in the developing world and, like all Java systems, they are subject to quite a few errors- one reason why we have 11 different versions of Java in existence in the world. Java’s creators, Sun MicroSystem, hold the absolute market share in biometric voter systems and have mostly struggled to correct this problem.

That said, I am a resident of the State of Oregon in US and a longtime State Democratic Party Committee member. I am also a longtime Java programmer. In Oregon, we now vote- for primaries and general elections- by mail. Noone goes to a “poll”. The main reason for this innovation, beyond a desire to increase voter participation, ease of voting, and the severe penalties Americans can be charged with as it relates to mail tampering(hence building in a fraud deterrent) is due to fraud- mostly perpetrated by Republicans in the more rural, Eastern parts of the state where they have strength.

Republicans would engage in fraud by asking activists with multiple addresses- and on three occasions minors- to register at one poll location and then go to a county (a “county” is the lowest administrative division in the US, similar to your “territories”)
where they had another address and do the same thing. Thus, register more than once. We used biometric registration then in addition to paper registrations. While the aftermath of the contested Bush/Gore election changed most, though not all, systems at the time each county election department/division had its own separate networks- thus it was impossible to find duplications because the two servers didn’t talk to each other. In America, we have no “CENI”. Elections are “run” by non-partisan county officials and this local body is funded via local taxes. Since we have 270,000 counties you could say we have 270,000 “CENI’s” which is why Florida nearly plunged the nation into the first constitutional crisis since the Civil War. It was only through the paper registration and the process “Anonymous” laid out earlier that we were able to catch real and potential fraud, then pass laws requiring all counties to use the same registration process and servers, and then move to the more fool-proof mail in ballot. Oregon is very much a former “Old West” US state where the scale and breadth of fraud back in those days would make potential Congolese fraudsters blush- hence our state’s vigilance and innovation on voting.

(cont)

Anonymous said...

(part two)

It is therefore entirely possible that similar efforts at rigging the vote are occurring in the Congo which makes Jason’s allegations here particularly serious and, given the recent violent past of the Congo, rather frightening given what he laid bare suggests a pretty widespread and thus organized effort.

Also, it is my understanding that the Java system in place is of Russian design. Given the joke that is Russian democracy (not to mention their Java capabilities) and the severe fraud that has typified its elections since the dissolution of the Soviet Union we cannot rule out the potential of foul play and collusion- and neither can CENI. Again, I am not certain of this so if others have information on Zetes underlying software than one can take this particular concern off the table but, if not, I want to highlight it.

I am very happy to see laws on the books as it relates to fraud. The question, ofcourse, is you and other Congolese can trust the authorities to execute them in Kinshasa.

I will leave that question open.

Brian

Rich said...

Brian -

Many thanks for your insight I enjoyed reading it especially, " Oregon is very much a former “Old West” US state where the scale and breadth of fraud back in those days would make potential Congolese fraudsters blush- ..."

That said, let me clarify that I was not trying to give Jason some stick, from what Jason said, I just found Zetes position very ambiguous since they allegedly reported one thing then dissmiss their own report when asked about it... I guess the prospect of losing a lucrative contract can be a prominent explanatory variable in this saga.

Trust authorities to execute laws in Kinshasa??? From personal experience, I can easily imagine the opposite. However, I also know that things could be worse. Mind you this is only a 3rd proper election to be organised in this country since 1960. This time, we should have been at least 10 times (50 years since independance / 5 years mandatures) more experienced in elections if we had regular elections since the independance.

Whilst other countries may be seen as flying high in the skies, to me, the situation of the DRC can be compared to an item that was forced deep into a hole; now much effort must be or are being made to first pull it from the deep hole and place it on the ground before thinking about lifting it above ground level or indeed let it fly high in the skies.

I have no doubt that more regular elections is the way forward.

Rich

Anand said...

Enjoying the discussion. Can anyone point me to a good source to stay abreast of the daily goings on as election time nears? I am a little new to studying the DRC.

Anonymous said...

Part 1.....

Anand-

There are several options so here are a few:

A)
I'm not sure what email client you use, but if you have Google, it is as simple as creating a news alert.

Google aggregates news from everywhere, ofcourse, posted to the Net. Here's how to create a news alert (once you have a google account that is).

- go to Google news
- search for "DR Congo elections"
- scroll to the bottom of the search
- click on "create an email alert for DR Congo"

At that point, you will start receiving news via your email account. If you don't want to use Google, you can create a feed and, ofcourse, Google comes in a variety of languages.

I personally have two accounts- one in English and one in French- and, in English and French, the following alerts:

"DR Congo"
"DR Congo election"
"Conflict minerals"
"Sec 1502 Dodd Frank"

B)
I also subscribe to Radio Okapi, the UN station in the DRC, which has a website that is updated daily (its in French but can be can translated, again, using Google if you have Google Chrome)

http://radiookapi.net/

If you are fluent in French and have a smartphone, you can stream live via your phone Congolese radio stations that are streaming live via the free app Tunein Radio. Tune In has about 50,000 stations streaming live and on some nights one can listen to Tchaikovsky from a Siberian station, Wagner from a Hamburg station, Soukous from a Congolese station, Flamenco from a Spanish station, and Argentine hip hop from a Buenos Aires station. I listen to Congolese stations daily and while similar apps exist from streaming TV, I’ve found Congolese radio stations to be more independent and irreverent by several degrees than their TV stations.

C)
For a more “academic” view of the Congo, I read this blog and:
Texas in Africa
Rachel Strohm
Dizole.com (the blogger is a highly regarded American-based Congolese journalist)
Congo Resources
Enough Project blog

For a some wit and a anthropological/insider perspective I read Alex Engwete’s blogs in English and French. Alex, who is Congolese and lives in DC and Kinshasa, is a anthropologist and uses a writing style that is akin to the great pamphleteers of old combined with his deep knowledge of Congolese culture. It is much more subjective that Congo Siassa or Texas in Africa but provides a unique perspective given Engwete’s background. I get the feeling that Stearn’s has a more “elite” (diplomats, party leaders, UN officials, etc) cache of sources for his blog whereas Engwete has “grassroots” ones which provide a good balance in my view.

For a more journalistic perspective, I read these blogs:

Dizole.com
Congo Resources
Nicolas Kristoff (NY Times reporter, covers Congo on ocassions)
The King Effect- remarkable blog by American Amy Enrst, who is assisting rape victims with a Congolese group in Eastern Congo. Amy is a classic do-gooder but is relentless in her journals given her dedication to Congolese women, her insightful understanding for the often conflicting views of UN and aid workers vis a vis the Congolese, and her sheer bravery in reaching out to rebels.

Anonymous said...

Part 2....

D)
Due to my travels to the Congo as a evangelical minister, I have friends in the Congo who live in all its provinces. I speak to them regularly, in addition to traveling to the Congo once a year, and all of them are on facebook. This is the best “on the ground” perspective I can get in my view of not just the elections, but life more generally in the Congo. Quite a few American evangelical ministers/relief adminstrators run their own blogs as well from inside the Congo and I peruse these from time to time.

There are many more places to get election content news from foreign and Congolese sources but I’ve narrowed it to these for now to get a well rounded picture.

E)
Finally, I strongly suggest- if you haven’t already- getting some background history on the Congo. Its current situation is directly related to its past (as in all nations) and there are quite a few great books on this account and more coming. With the Congo, context is important given the complexity of the situation the nation faces in “digging out of a hole”, as Rich put it. Here is but a few fine ones.

(about the Congo wars)
Dancing in the Glory of Monsters- Jason’s recent book
Africa’s World War- Gerard Prunier
(about Congo’s history)

The Congo from Leopold to Kabila- Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja


Finally, I would read damn near anything by Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinua_Achebe#A_Man_of_the_People

This brilliant sage understands Africa’s political predicament (among others) in a way only an artist can and once gave a lecture about the “Heart of Darkness”, by Joseph Conrad, that was both masterful in its searing power and deeply provocative. He ofcourse writes about Nigeria, and Nigeria is not Congo, but his basic view of things can be applied to the Congolese political elite.

Hope this helps.

Bryce

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot about the newsite Congo Planet!

http://www.congoplanet.com/

Bryce

Anand said...

Bryce,

Thank you VERY much for the references. I am familiar with Jason's book, TiA's blog, Amy Ernst and Nicholas Kristof, as well as reports from various aid/humanitarian groups (IRC, Journeyman Films, Enough Project etc). But your post has widened my resources considerably. I am currently researching the early history of the Congo; I want to understand the current situation from the deep past to the present. I don't want to place a brick wall between Mobutu's Congo and Leopold's Congo, between Diogo Cao's "discovery of the Congo" and the early migrations and formations of the early kingdoms. I want to have a sense of all of these things as I explore the recent Congo Wars and the current politics and problems. I am working on a narrative film involving the DRC and I want my depictions to be accurate and relevant. Thanks again. I hope to contribute to, and learn from, future discussions here and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I really must say that Amy's blog is nothing short of astonishing.

She is able, in the prose of journal writing, to both seek the deepest understanding of her Congolese clients, rebels, the Congolese agency she works for, and, most remarkably- herself.

It is like reading a grown up Anne Frank trying to figure it all out in the Congo.

She is simply extraordinary and should be commended for her efforts.

This isn't a knock on you Stearns. Your blog is fantastic but Amy is truly not only to seek to understand but to solve while examining her own beliefs and values.

Being she is at the very epicenter of what is the clear failures of the Congolese state, her blog is consistently riveting and I cannot wait to see how what she does with these experiences.

Anonymous said...

I second, or perhaps third, Ernst's blog.

Did you all read the passage about her trying to save that kid from the orphanage in Kinshasa?

In what I think must have been no more than 4 blog posts, she masterfully weaved a compelling narrative about the rank corruption and abuse of that orphanage, highlight the humanity but difficult conditions of the local police, draw attention to the plight of its beautiful children, and confront her own emotions and values throughout the whole ordeal.

It was unreal.

I emailed friends, none of whom were even slightly interested in the Congo, each post and one literally said "Reading this felt like watching "Saving Private Ryan". In going out of her way to rescue this one child, she, like Tom Hank's character in the movie, literally confronts the horror and beauty of the human condition all at once."

Every last one of my friends have become deeply interested in "everything Congo" as a result of that singular episode on her blog.

Amy is an exceptionally thoughtful, introspective, and compassionate young woman and her blog is essential reading- like this one and others Bryce mentioned- about the Congo.

It is no surprise the nation's most honored newspaper, the New York Times, highlights her work.

All of those qualities and those of her Congolese friends, clients, and employers shine right through in her words.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on Ernst and really all of Bryce's recommendations.

Just wanted to highlight an article on the forthcoming Liberia elections- which have a good deal of the smoldering anger as the approaching Congolese.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201109300383.html

UNMIL, Liberia's "MONUSCO", is, via its radio station, organizing debates of the Presidential candidates.

Any idea why Radio Okapi, with its 28 million daily listeners, is not?

They are apparently going to make them studio affairs, so closed to the public to avoid violence, but will allow people to call in questions on various topics, do so through facebook and twitter, and SMS.

I really believe the Congolese should have a similar opportunity.

Jason Stearns said...

@Bryce - Many thanks for the exhaustive list. I have been meaning to post a list of resources myself in a blog post, hopefully I'll get around to it in the next few days.

@Anonymous (last one) - Okapi did interview the main contenders in 2006, perhaps they will try to do the same this time. I do seem to remember that Kabila refused to engage in a public debate in 2006; I think that was controversial because it had been part of a law - either the electoral law or another legal provision, I think. So it may not be up to Okapi.

Anand said...

The only thing I have seen close to a debate(though not really a debate) is the video of Jason and the panel at the Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in 2010, on YouTube. I would love to see video debates. Although maybe not the most accessible format for many Congolese, it helps in assessing folks.

Rich said...

@ Anonymous & Jason -

In 2006 J Kabila refused to debate and Vital Kamerhe was in charge to explain why! Kamerhe said, Bemba étant très brutal « le débat risquait de se faire en dessous de la ceinture ...».

The 2006 law made provision for debates to be organised by the media high authority, but this is not compulsory and candidates are free to agree or not. The 2011 has changed that article (112) and there is no mention of any such debate. I guess the excuse would be based on the fact that there is only going to be a single round election.

Here are the two articles:

2006: Article 112 :
La Haute autorité des médias organise, en sus du temps d’antenne attribué à chacun de deux candidats demeurés en lice au second tour de
l’élection présidentielle, des débats radiodiffusés ou télévisés contradictoires, qui permettront à chacun d’entre eux d’intervenir.
Le nombre, la durée, les horaires des émissions ainsi que les modalités pratiques de leur réalisation sont déterminés par la Haute autorité des médias en concertation avec la Commission électorale indépendante.

2011: Article 112 : Sans préjudice des dispositions de l’article 28 de la présente loi, la campagne électorale est ouverte vingt-quatre heures après la publication de la liste définitive des candidats et prend fin vingt-quatre heures avant l’ouverture du scrutin.

Le Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel et de la communication organise un temps d’antenne pour chaque candidat Président de la République en vue de lui permettre de présenter son programme d’action.

Le nombre, la durée, les horaires des émissions ainsi déterminés par le Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuelle modalité pratiques de leur réalisation sont la communication en concertation avec la Commission électorale nationale indépendante.

FYI. Is anyone aware of the increasing number of E Tshisekedi visits to Canada (where he is scheduled to meet V. Kamerhe any time within the next few days) and his contacts with First Quantum?

@ Anand, if you need more confusion and debates between Congolese (both politics and citizens), I can point you to a few sources but I don't know how good is your Lingala mixed with French...

Rich

Anand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anand said...

@Rich, I would very much appreciate any sources you could refer me to. My Lingala and French are non-existent. I only speak and read two languages, English and Texan. :) But I can find some folks at the local refugee center to help me translate.

Based on your last post (and Google translator!)each candidate will be alloted separate airtime to present their platform/ plans, etc in the 2011 campaign. The Media High Council, Independent Electoral Commission, and Council for audio/ video communication seem to control a lot of the parameters of how candidates will be able to present themselves through media. Are these entities very "independent" or are they essentially Kabila run? Sorry if I sound very uninformed, still learning...

D Djeli said...

It was Zetes UK that supplied the kit to the DRC, they even bragged about how fast they did it....

Anonymous said...

"Texan" :) Hahahaha!

As a 4th generation Cajun (whose language is structurally similar to Lingala), that gave me quite a chuckle.

No more President's from Texas ok, Anand? That would help both Americans and Congolese for generations to come. The more I read about Mssr Perry the more my deep disappointment at Obama subsides.

Anyhew, the question of the Media Council is really one of execution. Their rules are pretty progressive actually. We could use them here. But, as with concerns about CENI, what are the processes of reprimanding violators? In terms of capacity, how will the Council survey the large and growing media in the Congo? From my understanding, they will have a grant from someone (anyone know who?) to assist with both survey and reprimanding but right now this isn't clear.

The Council does have regime representatives per its law. But its fairly well balanced which bodes well for its nandate but, with all things in the Congo, the question is one of political will and courage. This is a new institution in the nation and while they may not get it all right the future of the Congo rests almost exclusively on strengthening its institution.

This is one of those situations, I believe, where the glass is half full.

@Rich

Based on my intelligence work (I'm a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and while my beat isn't the Congo I have participated in 3 training's with its journalists over the last 3 years), Kengo, Kashala, Vital, and Etienne have met with both First Quantum and, in three cases, Freeport.

And why not? Kabila has his sugar daddy in Gertler and spurned investors of this regime and these candidates have much to break bread over.

I have much more confidence in these guys squeezing to the very last drop of value out of foreign investors than Kabila and his cartel's woeful negotiation skills. A ton more.

Anyway, I doubt something like this would make news. These are private affairs and purposely so.

Thomas

Anand said...

(Sorry if this posts twice, computer is screwing up)

@ Thomas

As a Texan, I would like to formally apologize for our recent trend in governors seeking national office. And I agree, Obama gets a more lenient review when viewed through a Perry filtered lens...especially when he is your governor...

Thanks for the breakdown on the Media Council. Any somewhat optimistic take on institutions related to the coming elections is welcome news. It would be interesting to know where this grant is coming from. Also, thanks for the scoop on links between mining groups and the other candidates.

Anonymous said...

I can highly recommend the book, Elections in Dangerous Places edited by David Gilles with an excellent article by Christian Hennemeyer and a wonderful blog, In Search of the Bonobo by John and Terese Hart real Congo hands. New book, Congo Masquerade and earlier one, Reinventing the Congo and blog by T Trefon and, finally anything by V. D. Mudimbe. Mungwa Pierre

Rich said...

@ Anand -

As you may have noticed from Jason's last two posts, it will be difficult to do better than him. However, I can from now on, try and share with you anything related to the elections that I find interesting.

Your translation of the law on election's debates is fair. I can only add that in 2006 the media high commission spent much of its time suspending and disconnecting various media outlets and one day after the political rally, J P Bemba supporters stormed the media high commission head quarter and vandalised it in a big style. Kabila supporters were also accused of burning down Bemba's tv. The national TV is pretty much under Kabila's control and I cannot see Kabila's opponents having a fair share of its large coverage during the campaign. There are media outlets that are close to the opposition and they can be very vocal if not extremist too...

@Thomas -
I wonder if the fact that Kabila has getler gives the others the right to bargain 'negociating' Congolese sovereignty with foreign companies without/before being officially mandated/elected to act on behalf of the Congolese...

You are talking about "negotiation skills" as if you have the exclusive entitlement of setting its standard... I think, a dash of humility in some of your comments may have made them a little bit easier to digest... (Only a random opinion).

Rich

Rich said...

@ Anand -

Check this link Kamerhe is pitching his book where he touches upon many aspects of Congolese society and its political life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deNFTcuNiTQ

You can let me have you email address through Jason (who can also let you have mine) and I will try to share some news with you.

Rich

Fabien MARIE - Zetes said...

As comments might be limited in length, I have posted and answer on congosiasaanswer.blogspot.com

Anand said...

@Rich

Thanks for the link and the info on the 2006 elections. Based on the the last few comments and Jason's mega-list, I probably have more sources than I can handle for the time being. Thanks so much for your generous offer to share information. I'll definitely get in touch once I have a better working knowledge of the basics regarding DRC politics.

Anonymous said...

to you all gents.

a. Zetes is a belgium company.
b. If there are doubles, it can be only two things: YES, they are there. That is the reason why fingerprint deduplication is used.
NO, the AFIS (automated fingerprint identification system) has a very poor accuracy, which means, lots of these doubles are real identities. Zetes has NO EXPERIENCE in this matter, only THEIR SUPPLIER of the technology, which is today, unknown. Transparancy is the last thing you can say about Zetes. Same problems arised in Ivory Coast. It simply does not work. Google yourself on words like Zetes / Ivory Coast.

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