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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

As election results approach, a long road lies ahead

Kinshasa was in a weird mood this evening, as parts of town celebrated, thinking Tshisekedi had won the polls. Elsewhere, people sulked, thinking that Kabila had been declared victor. But as this went to cyber-press, the electoral commission had just pushed back the final announcement to Friday. According to one source close to the election commission, the vice-president from the political opposition was blocking the announcement, refusing to sign off on the final figures until the commissioner had agreed to publish disaggregated results by polling station at the same time. According to the election commissioner, they needed "to cross-check results received from across the country."

But it would be good at this time to remember that this announcement is not the end of the process. Even if Kabila is declared victor, as is expected, the opposition will contest the results, both in the streets and in courts. If this scenario plays out, two factors will be key: how many people Tshisekedi can mobilize in the streets, and how clear it is that the elections were rigged.

For the former, there is no doubt that Kinshasa would seethe with anger if Kabila was declared victor. But thousands - perhaps tens of thousands - of soldiers and policemen are deployed in the streets, and the game would almost certainly be to disperse any crowd that was trying to gather, with rubber bullets, tear gas and even live ammunition. It is not clear how long the opposition could hold out and how many casualties the regime would be able to inflict before one side backed down.

As for the proof of rigging: this is a crucial point, and one I think has not been muddled. We know that there have been widespread irregularities and rigging, probably amounting to hundreds or even thousands of incidents. Some minor, others large. What has not yet been put in the public domain is the exact scale of this fraud. Kabila now leads by over 2 million votes; one would imagine that that kind of lead should be relatively easy to detect. But it will take time to bring this evidence to bear.

The best indicator we have of massive fraud will the the proces verbaux, the minutes from each individual polling station. Witnesses from political parties receive a signed copy of these minutes after the ballots are counted in front of them. So if political parties have enough of these PVs, and they don't match up with those provided by the government, they will be able to prove fraud. Observers like the Catholic church, or the Carter Center, can write down the results but don't have signed copies.

But apparently none of the political parties had complete coverage of the country (I don't know the exact coverage), nor did the Catholic church and NGOs. So they will be able to prove fraud in certain areas, but perhaps not for the whole country - or, at least, it is not clear. In some areas like Katanga, where some have accused the government of stuffing ballots and registering children, there was poor coverage, and in other areas witnesses were chased out of polling stations.

In addition, it is always possible that fictitious polling stations will send in results, where there could be no observers or witnesses because they don't exist. Observers and witnesses would have to go through the final list of polling stations and their results to see which ones did not exist in a particular town or area; after all, when the initial list of stations was released, many observers complained that there were numerous stations that didn't exist or were at the wrong address.

All of this will take time. It may be, of course, that there is no doubt, that the gap between the two candidates is too large, or that there are so much proven fraud that the election must be thrown out.

But it is also possible that we never get an exact real count of the vote, and - if the election is close - that doubts will remain about the possible winner. This would be the worst scenario, as it would leave is in legal and political limbo. But some actors seem to be preparing for exactly this. There is talk of mediators at the UN - Kofi Annan was reportedly asked to come to help "mediate," but he said he would not be able to make it (because he was too busy or didn't want to be involved in such a messy process?). Others suggest that the South Africans have been positioning themselves for this kind of "mediation". The reason for the inverted commas is that, as of now, there is nothing to mediate, we still believe that we will find out who won the polls.

But what if we don't? I know this is anathema to many Congolese, who firmly believe that their candidate won. I also have my guesses and inclinations (it's better not to air them here), but proof may be harder to come by that we think and hope.

In any case, there will also be a race against time. The electoral calendar says the Supreme Court will confirm the final results on December 17, which only leaves eight days for the defeated party to sue in court.

58 comments:

Aldwin said...

Just a question: Is it at all possible that the delays in announcing results are (partially) aimed at shortening the time available for appealing the decision? Or is that just a silly conspiracy theory?

Also, could you (possibly in another post) enlighten us on the legal procedures in place for contesting the result? And just how independent is the judiciary? I suppose the court will delay confirming the results should there still be legal challenges pending?

Mambo Lumona said...

Oh come on, Jason
Go ahead and tell us what your sense is about the election winner.
Please don't follow the CENCO line. At least we know why they (CENCO) took that position (religion obliges, you know....).
Why would you?

Anonymous said...

does anyone know what the exact participation grade is?
i heard that for the katanga province it was 70%+ while for Bas congo /equateur it was not even 55%... this means that the value of the provinces becomes higher? or am i mistaken?

Anonymous said...

It is enlightening to learn today that the good Pastor did not bother to cross-check "his" results before publishing them. The question is "Will the good Pastor be brave enough to say mea culpa if the figures did not match?", I do not think so. It is very clear that the figures do not just add up, the good Pastor is between the rock and the hard place. He knows that his boss is without mercy...Alea jacta est

Anonymous said...

Unbeliable,

Why all these reports of publication of the final tally?.
CENI is publishing results that were not cross checked with the "proces verbaux"of each local compilation center.
Good grief, So the national CENI doesnt even try to cross check the number published.
What a recipe for disaster.

By the way Jason, according to Radio Okapi the Katanga compilation center is saying now that they lost results for 51 polling station of Lubumbashi amounting to 22,000 thousands received ballots.
How can you lose 22, 000 ballots. these number were not tallied in the total number.

Anonymous said...

indeed

Anonymous said...

One way of getting closer to all this would be to try and get to the bottom of reports of planeloads of voting papers arriving in lubumbashi (and one allegedly in kinshasa)as the vote was actually closing out. the focus of everybody's attention has been kinshasa, or certainly that is the media focus. but out in katanga, after the 2006 elections there were credible reports of some kabila strongholds sending back more votes than registered population. at that time if your drove through the katanga outback between lubumbashi and kolwezi each roadside village, steeped in poverty, would have a PPRD flag. Nobody really reported what was happening in Katanga in November 2006, and the same predicament may exist today.

For South Africa to mediate seems somewhat ironic given these flights are alleged to have originated from South Africa. There is no hard evidence to back this claim up but the chatter from those in the know is loud.

Rich said...

Here the plan here may be to release the results as close to the weekend as possible so that it gives time to deal with any trouble (if ever there is to be) or indeed see the tension drop over the weekend when the Congolese big cities are not busy!

Just me speculating...

Rich

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jason for your coverage, among others, on Congo elections from day one. You've been giving us analysis and information that no local journalists or newsmen can. For we really rely on your blog, we encourage you to keep up with the good and professional work.
Thanks! (http://kipracongo.wordpress.com)

Diane said...

Dear Jason -
I am an American, graduate of University of Chicago with a degree in African Studies, who has currently been in Bukavu for almost 5 months now (my second trip here). I don't work for any NGO, although I provide some informal assistance to PLD (they are responsible for monitoring for UNHCR in S. Kivu). I could write pages regarding election commentary...but in general my opinion is that fraud has been overstated. Kabila could very likely have carried the elections without fraud, but the results would have been very close, especially if any opposition candidates coalised at the last minute...and so fraud was a necessary measure to assure enough of a spread to avoid contestation. I am certainly not a fan of the Kabila government...but people (especially those in the Kivus and those a l'ouest), have a tendency to forget that Kabila is genuinely popular in certain provinces and among certain voters. Perhaps not for the right reasons (given the low expectations Congolese have of their government), but he is popular in two very populous provinces (Oriental and Katanga)...as well as in Maniema and pockets of the Kivus (as you know, in S. Kivu, Kabare voted massively for Kabila as a result of the road and the rumor that Kamerhe wanted to displace the airport to Walungu and also many Lega did not want to vote for a candidate Shi). I write this preliminary (and certainly incomplete) commentary to introduce myself and to ask if you are still in Bukavu and would be willing to arrange a meeting. A colleague of mine who is director of a local NGO and collaborates with Enough Project and was one of the witnesses who testified before the US Congress regarding the conflict mineral provision of the Dodd-Frank act is very interested in meeting with you. I told him that you are one of the pre-eminent American scholars specializing in Congo and that you are a professor at Yale, where he is applying to study at the Forestry School in 2012. If you have a chance to read this and would like to make contact, my email is dec326@hotmail.com.
Diane

Christian Kingombe said...

'How could the Diaspora from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), consisting of vast numbers of scientists, engineers, experts and entrepreneurs, help to achieve the electoral pledges of each of the 11 (male) Presidential candidates?
http://www.odi.org.uk/opinion/details.asp?id=6181&title=diaspora-development-role-drcs-diaspora-countrys-future

Anonymous said...

Rich, on your point on gaining time...

The final results will be published at midnight today, right? AT MIDNIGHT!!! From a de-escalation policing tactical point of view this is the WORST moment to deliver election results in such a dense atmosphere.

Are they mad? If not, do they want riots to be able to suspend the constitution until further notice?

O oohhhhh

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough the usual "friends of the Congo" are nowhere to be found, while Kabila's friends are still putting pressure to reconduct his catastrophic tenure. Depressing! The new and most likely scenario: a government of national unity. Another slicing of the cake. Congo's godfathers just don't get it. Tshisekedi, unlike any politician they have had to deal with in the past 50 years (with the notable exception of PE Lumumba), is not looking to get his share of the Congo cake. the only acceptable alternative to the reelection of Joseph Kabila is a transitory government without Joseph Kabila. Otherwise, let him try to rule a country where he has lost all moral authority (which he didn't have much of to begin with) and hope that in 2016, Congolese will finally have the liberty to elect someone who is truly competent and dedicated to the country's reconstruction and not into turning the country into his own personal property and allow his friends, family and associates to have their piece of the cake...

On another note, does anybody know the new US envoy to the Great Lakes, Barry Walkley?

Lusamba

Anonymous said...

thanks, jason.

ultimately, all of this depends on j's basic questions about a revolt in the streets. if it is sustained, which few people believe possible, then its likely we should all get used to a president kabila with, perhaps, a more udps national assembly.

but, ofcourse, if they are sustained, kabila will fall into upds trap which seems to have been to encourage a mediation process to finally gain power.

in otherwards, we are now at an interesting juncture in congolese history. so much of this nation's history has been affected by outsiders. but if the congolese decide that enough is enough and take to the streets- or small towns- in protest over a stolen vote we may finally see the congolese take real and measured ownership over their history and destiny.

i personally don't believe we will see this in any sustained manner given this society is so incredibly traumatized and lacks basic confidence about itself. then there are the latent divisions in this society holding it back on top of the logistical problems of communicating across the nation.

but, then again, trauma and desperation has a way of uniting people and quite a few other similarly placed people have shaked off fear and division and, in their collective sovereignty, transformed their nations- indians under british rule, black americans at the civil rights movement, the irish civil rights movement, the reform movement in Chile, gdansk in poland, the arab spring, the ongoing wall street occupations in america.

so, in my view, we are at a place where a new generation of congolese will either decide for themselves the path forward, or allow others to decide for them.

i am personally looking forward to seeing what they decide.

jose

Anonymous said...

The CENI has declared Kabila the winner. http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2011/12/09/joseph-kabila-kabange-reelu-president-de-la-republique-democratique-du-congo/ No surprises.

I have the impression, from speaking to people in the Congo, that the folks in the diaspora are more irrate about the elections than those who actually voted. Even the mild comments posted on Okapi's website are not anywhere as vitriolic as what one reads on blogs for people in the diaspora.

This apparent disconnect is probably the reason why the feared violence will not materialize, at least not to the scale suggested by some analysts. That's a good thing.

It looks like Congolese in the Congo understand that nation-building and democracy is a process that takes time to be rooted. People should remember that this election is only the first time that the DRC has had consecutive competitive elections. I am 100% sure that by the time the DRC will have five elections "under its belt," the electoral process will be much better or smoother (though still not as in Switzerland). Both election professionals and voters also will have had enough experience with this whole election stuff.

On thing is certain: the DRC's commitment to electing its leaders is on an irreversible footing. Self-proclaimed "liberators" and "saviors" will no longer be tolerated. Such actors actually may no longer succeed in taking over the apparatus of the Congolese state.

Passions should now come down. Let's focus on the parliament. Therein power lies.

Mwana Kin said...

Jason,

Here is the preliminary number from CENI

Turnout is one of the thing that people will look closely at . provinces of Katanga and of Sud Kivu have the highest of this election 71% and 69% respectively.
Hope that you will see the excel file I linked.
Just copy it and drop in the your browser

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AvKnhk4gMcY0dGVBay1WWjhWSUZmUE1DZldrWWNhYmc&single=true&gid=0&output=html

Tony said...

You can find all figures and pourcentages here : http://www.ceni.gouv.cd/resultats.aspx

What is also interesting is to compare the figures on the website from ceni for some polling stations with the notes some observers took in these poling stations when the results were displaied outside these polling stations after he counting the day of the vote.

I contacted some friends in different provinces and was amased how they were identical!

Anonymous said...

@Toni: Did you contact your friends in the following electoral districts (the list is not exhaustive): Malemba Nkulu, Manono, Bukama, Kabongo,Dilolo, all in Katanga ?.....Staline would have been very proud !!

Anonymous said...

Yea...Agreed, Malemba Nklulu, Manono and Kabongo caught my eye. Anyone have comments?

Vincent Harris said...

yes, the Carter Center: "These results aren't even naturally occurring. It's a fundamental mark of disrespect for Congolese voters"

Anonymous said...

i'm noticing the same anomolies.

any ideas Ton-man? Rich? twitter is lighting up with comments that in some places we have over 100% turnout.

on one level though, it doesn't make sense for JK and Company to run the ballot (or "cheating" in New York electoral lingo) in their strongholds- that's too obvious. so, as Jason notes, i wonder what is fraud and what are irregularities here given the newness of all this for the congolese?

jose

Anonymous said...

No, no! Stalin wouldn't be proud! Boss Tweed at Tammany Hall in New York!!!

Marie

Anand said...

Question about the yet to be released Carter Center fraud report on the DRC elections: Will this report be totally objective? I believe the Carter Center was calling on the Congolese to accept the results, which to me seemed to be more of an attempt to maintain peace rather than an objective viewpoint. Can we expect total objectivity from their fraud report?

Anonymous said...

@Jose: To me, it does make sense as the Kabila camp artificially increased the number of registered voters in Katanga to about 4.7 million, over 25% increase when compared to 2006 numbers. They couldn't have so many free voters and not use them when needed. This explains why CENI compiled votes from Katanga so quickly while the same information from Kinshasa was left out.
My feeling is the whole process was set up to make J Kabila reelection look natural. The narrative is: he led the race from end to end.
What the future holds is uncertain:

Anonymous said...

I have the same question, Anand.

To be totally clear, quite a few institutions credibility is on the line here- CENI, the AU (which also issued similar "chill out and accept the results" releases), the SADC, and ofcourse the EU and Carter Teams.

Every last one of them and, in my view, the goal here needs not to be to tame violence- that's the Congolese's job- and ensure the credibility of this vote and average Congolese's trust of this very new process to them. Not to mention other potentially volatile elections in the coming year in Zimbabwe, Congo's local elections, Angola, and Kenya.

I contribute quite heartily to the Carter Center and if they jump the gun or tame things down- while understandable- I will do whatever it takes to punish them with my $$ and encourage everyone I know who contributes as well.

A subjective fraud report is totally unacceptable under any circumstances.

We shall see.....

Mel

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 12/10 11:01 AM

solid theory, friend. it IS rather odd that Katanga came in SO fast, SO efficiently, and SO definitively.

very odd. the level of efficiency in tabulating that province votes ALONE is suspect and, yes, seems "natural" from the outside. but, ofcourse, one could also say that the level of resources (staff, a generally better educated populace in katanga, etc) was higher and, hence, allowed for these efficiencies.

but, ultimately, i seriously doubt this is the case and instead it does tip off my fraud alert.

jose

Anonymous said...

I wonder, should UDPS hit the streets and death and violence follow, if there is not a silver lining here?

What if, in terms of demands, UPDS/ET allows the results as is in exchange for a National Conference to finally settle the many issues that make state-building next to impossible in the Congo with the assurance that whatever comes of it will be accepted by the elite?

There appears to be no end game for the opposition here given the "legal" channels are, effectively, closed to them.

So what of this deal? Accept the results for a National Conference?

Thoughts?

Tony said...

@anonymous

I have friends in Manono district and I will contact them also, thanks for the tip.

I know Manono is the region of birth of Laurent Désiré Kabila. So let's presume that people of CENI were to "dedicated" there. Let's punish whole the province of Katanga, which is really not fair to them. Let's presume that in Katanga, Kabila got only 60% of the votes. Then he remains ahead with more then 1,1 milllion votes in whole the country. Even without the figures of Katanga, Kabila has nearly half a million votes more then Tshisekedi.

The Carter Centre is very hard for the CENI and did not notice the intoxication campaign against the CENI, which was the base for many problems in polling stations. But even then the Carter Center concludes: "This assessment does not propose that the final order of candidates is necessarily different than announced by CENI, only that the results process is not credible."

In any case: the illegal compilation center from UDPS gave 56% of the votes to Tshisekedi. I think this implies more 100% scores for Mr Tshisekedi in his region in the Kasai. Remember that Tshisekedi predicted that he had already 100% of the votes before the elections.

Concerning whatever sort of "deal": mr Tshiskedi. said yesterday for the Flemish television that any form of negotiation with Kabla is excluded.

PS: Concerning the intoxication campaign from the opposition: CENI could at least have asked questions as: who launched the massif sms to mobile-phones in whole the country to “inform” the public that the CENI_pens in the polling center had ink that would dissapear after 30 minutes, so the vote could be changed in favor of candidate number 3? Or the “news” one week for the elections that 3 million bulletins were sent from Johannesburg to the DRC who were already filled in favor of Kabila? This sort of intoxication created a whole atmosphere of mistrust among the public against the CENI that caused many problems.

Tony said...

The 1,1 million votes difference is in case in Katanga Kabila got only 60% and Tshisekedi got 37%. Which is really a punishment far to unfair for the Katangese.

Anonymous said...

Mel,

I think in the upcoming elections in countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe things might be relatively peaceful having in mind that already in Kenya there some politicians facing the ICC over their roles in the post elections violence.

I see the ICC as a deterrent and maybe thats why even Tshisekedi has watered down his inflammatory remarks.

Mwafrika

Anonymous said...

@Toni: Mistrust regarding CENI started way before the election. The electoral register that wasn't properly audited; the unwillingness to provide the list of polling stations location on time. The lack of a proper forum for the opposition and Kabila's camp to solve any issues. CENI mishandled the whole process and let's face it: they were not ready to run these elections logistically and technically.
You have to give credit to J Kabila Camp because their fraud was more subtle and widespread: in Katanga, you should substract about 1.5 million.
As you have many friends in the DRC, could you check the following districts as well in the Equateur province: Lisala, Businga, Bumba. In the Bandundu province, I suggest you have a lokk on the following districts: Gungu, Idiofa or Masi Manimba. Again the list is not exhaustive.
At some point, you will have to admit that the whole process was set up to ensure J Kabila reelection and that all the discussion we are having cannot hide this basic point. The real tragedy for the Congolese people and the opposition is that the DRC fate is still decided outside the country. Belgium, the UK, France and the USA still prefer a J Kabila who stole an election to E Tshisekedi, who is, probably the winner, despite his flaws... then again the West is only defending its interests.. Democracy, free and fair elections never stood any chance.

Anonymous said...

It is at times difficult to read apparently smart people saying crazy things, from what is said above,the mistrust of the Ceni by the people in the DRC is due to a campaign of intoxication by the opposition. Why always blame the opposition,it was up to the Ceni to create an atmosphere of trust by responding positively to some of the requests for transparency made by the opposition. Who trusts the government to keep its words in the DRC. There are so many cases over the years in which the trust between the government and the people was abused by the same government. To ask the congolese people to trust an institution like the Ceni to be transparent in the context of the DRC is not to know the realities of the DRC.The whole atmosphere of mistrust among the public against Ceni is a product of the unwillingness of the ceni to be transparent and the lack of trust in the DRC goverment by the public. By the way, what is illegal in using the legal reasults posted outside the voting centers throughtout the country and available to everyone in order to come up with the results, isn't that what Ceni is doing. The way these elections were handled by Ceni has confirmed in many minds why they should not have trusted the Ceni to be transparent.

Bismark

Anonymous said...

@Bismark: I couldn't agree more. At the end of the day, Congolese don't trust many institutions and it was up to CENI to show that it was professional and impartial and that they didn't receive theirs order from J Kabila.In any walk of life respect and trust are earned, not given.
Anyway, the DRC needs a way forward. Suggestions, anyone ?

Tony said...

@anonymous

Saying hat "Tshisekedi is probably the winner" is really not serious. You may name so many districts as you want on base of figures you do not like, but Congolese voters were very vigilant against rigging.

Indeed, I spoke with a friend in Idiofa for example and he confirmed the results and also that they reflected the mood among the voters. But it's clear this becomes a "Yes" or "No" discussion.

I think the reason why all the bias for Tshisekedi and the tolerance for agitation of the Ngbanda-network acting from the outside have to do with the fact that Washington, Paris and Brussels were completely out of the process. These elections were paid by the Congolese government and made possible thanks to the aid of countries as China, Angola, South-Africa and even Russia. So the outcome had to be that the CENI "was not ready to run these elections". The ICG, with people as George Soros and Thomas Pcikerng in the Board, had already decided a few months after the elections in 2006, thate they were a failure and that there was need t more supervision from “the international community”. So it was very logic that by the beginning of this election proces in 2011 they announced that it should be postponed and that there should be "political negotiation". And what the masters of the world have decided that must be proofed has been proofed.

The chaos Tshiskekdi tries to create these days, serves only he purpose just to more intervention and pressure on Kabila and his government. It announces a period in which hostility between the West and Kabila will become more openly and interventions from NATO and AFRICOM are not excluded coming years.

For the American and European economies in crisis, it is excluded that Congo, and with Congo whole Africa, will go its own way and ally itself with the BRICS. This is a nightmare scenario. And it is just this scenario Kabila stands for.

Tony said...

It's to say "this is for them a nightmare scenario". Not for the people in Congo.

Anonymous said...

J Kabila...the new Thomas Sankara. People in the British Virgin Islands and the city of London must be laughing.... I suggest you stop writing for a few hours and read the report below.
http://ericjoyce.co.uk/2011/11/congo-fire-sale/
Western countries, to their credit, know that power comes from a gun and/or money. Thats why, for the foresseable future, they still have an competitive advantage over the BRICS and the nightmare scenario you mention is a very, very long shot as we saw clearly in Cote d'Ivoire and Lybia.
Finally, I wish you could enlighten me on the aid that China and Russia provided to the electoral process....I wasn't aware of it.

Tony said...

I already have reacted to this report of Joyce in another discussion sorry. See: teh discussion here http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/2011/11/selling-state-kinshasa-loses-up-to-55.html#comment-form

I do not say that kabila is a saint, nor that the evolution of the BRICS are the work of people as Thomas Sankara. But i see that it is difficult for you to tolerate another point of view as yours.

Anonymous said...

@Tony:
I take it as a frank exchange of views. We agree to disagree. I am far from being intolerant, I am sometimes find your points puzzling. Contrary to what you think, I can accept a Kabila's win on condition that the process was BROADLY fair. Everything suggests it wasn't: my criticism is not about the man but the system he is trying to impose which could lead:
- congolese rejection of elections as way of choosing their leaders as their choices won't be reflected
- polarising of a country and society that has been broken for years.
What Congo needs is a consensus on how to rebuild their country. The impression that I get is that the incumbent plans on carrying the formulas of the past: concentration of power, arbitrary rule, etc. If in 2016, your champion decides to extend his time, what will you then say ?
"The evolution of the BRICS are the work of people as Thomas Sankara" .Your sentence suggests to me that you haven't read about Thomas Sankara, his philisophy and ideas about Africa.

Tony said...

@ anonymous

It is a fact that people who are running the BRICS such as Hu Jintao, Singh,Zuma, Putin and so on are not of the same category as Thomas Sankara or Che Guevara who lived in another historical period. I think Kabila, who is not "my champion", but for whom I see no better real alternative in Congo today, certainly not Tshisekedi, is a man of this actual period and he has a vision in he sense of the BRICS. I am no "supporter" of Putin, Zuma of Hu Jntao, as I am no "supporter" of Kabila and I realize their policy implies also some danger.

But I believe one should not accept blindly every criticism from organizations as ICG who are not independent as they pretend. I see how bourgeois dandies as Karel De Gucht and Eric Joyce who ride pretty fast cars, think they are above the law even in their own country and defend a Western economic system that has ruined Africa and the Third world for five centuries And then they go to Congo and give arrogant lessons on corruption, good governance, ethics and everybody applaud! And even questioning this sort of easy arrogant criticism makes some people nervous.

I do not know if you are an adept of Thomas Sankara or if it was only a way to laugh with the left-winger from the block, but I can not imagine that Sankara could caution supervision from Western ngo's in elections in an African country.

Finally: the CENI has announced that they will follow their calendar of all electons at all levels. I am very curious to see witch parliament will come out, witch provincial parliament and also witch local governments will follow at the lever of towns and villages in 2013. And I hope they take all the lessons they could learn from this experience.

Anonymous said...

@Tony: The leaders you mentioned are all of the same historical period, except Che Guevara. I guess you have to clarify what you mean by historical period.
I disagree, there is an alternative to Kabila: if you ignore Tshisekedi, people like V Kamerhe even JP Bemba (when not in jail) are not any worse or any better than Kabila....they just haven't run their country for 10 years with very little to show for it....that police and military armed to the teeth in Kinshasa should be where it is really needed in Rutshuru, Masisi, South Kivu.
Honestly, I don't care about NGOs. I do notice that, instead of empowering a national organisation (CENI) to help it to carry out a mission in the interests of all congolese; politicians hijacked it for their own objective: to remain in power.
We can criticise bourgeois dandies as much as we want, Belgium and the UK have functioning states and institutions; the DRC has nothing...not even state men and women as K de Gucht so emphatically and correctly said in 2008. If the head od state doesn't set an example in respecting rules, institutions then do not expect the common man or woman in the street to behave any differently.
I am against any supervision from external stakeholders. At the same time, African government should create REAL, INDEPENDENT electoral bodies; which is ultimately what any system should aspire to.
I agree with you, I hope this appalling presidential exercice will strenghten democracy in the DRC but at the same time, J Kabila has proved to the world that he is ready to change as rules/principles as long as he remains in power...

Tony said...

@ the anonymous friend of Thomas Sankara,

Ignoring Tshisekedi, Kamerhe and Bemba? Will you continue with the 1+4 system then? There is one president and the parties who have lost the presidential elections will have their deputies in parliament.

We clearly disagree on the judgment on Thisekedi, Kamerhe and Bemba. Maybe it is because you do not know Conglese history and saw how these people behaved when they were in charge or maybe it is because you have other criteria. But this is a discussion I have really not the time for at the moment. The same about your judgment on Kabila. I only made a statment on what I think how this interference of Western governements and ngo's will play in the next years. Maybe I am wrong, mabe you are wrong, let's say that for the moment we disagree.

I see whole dynasties of families who can rule the USA, do you know the history of the Bush-family, the Kennedy's, the Clintons? Even in our Belgian parliament we see this phenomen of dynasties who dominate politics. So why this anger because Kabila will run for a second time after winning clearly these elections. We do not agree about that either, so let's see what the future brings.

I rest my case, have to work

greetings

Anonymous said...

When kabila needs to put his army/police of 20.000 soldiers in the streets before and after the declaration he has won, well, it means that he and his clique are afraid of his own population, and have to inforce his "victory" on them. And by the way, where are all those soldiers coming from, are they all congolese? Does anybody takes into account what Sassou, Dos Santos and Kagame are plotting with the DRC, already we know that kagame is occupying with his army the Eastern part. And knowing that, how on earth can somebody accept an election while having a foreign military force on the ground? it's a shame, it is terrible and again we, the congolese will eat dirt during 5 more years!

Anonymous said...

Events on the ground will prove who was right in this passionate discussion. I sincerely hope that J Kabila will be a much better leader than he has been so far.
You cannot compare political dynasties in USA/Belgium and those in DRC for the simple reason that the former have old, strong and functioning institutions. J Kabila would have never gotten away in the USA/Belgium with what he has been doing in the DRC:
- the public would have rejected long ago
- the press would have criticised his rule and the country's lack of progress
- the army/police would have refused to deploy in urban without a clear threat to the country's security
Building institutions takes time but you need state men......so far, J Kabila has proved is neither a state man nor is he willing to build institutions that might challenge his power.

Anonymous said...

looks like udps is calling for peaceful protests

link:http://af.reuters.com/article/drcNews/idAFL6E7NB0CB20111211

several questions:

- are they also going to try for a formal complaint via the supreme court, and, if so, will they be alone in the suit? what will be the charge?
- will they be joined by others in the streets? (parties, unions, students, the church, etc)
- what will be the demands? they are calling on the international community to "mediate" but, as Jason put it, mediate to do what?
- how will they sustain the protests given the deprivation of Congolese life? its possible but it would take considerable organization.
- where will these protests be?
- how will they escalate? or, if the tactic of protests doesn't get them closer to their goals (which aren't clear right now either) what is the next tactical decision in their strategy?
- will they call on the diaspora to help the protests?

i think this is great and clearly in line with what is going on in the world at the moment but, clearly, there are alot of questions surrounding this latest shift...

finally, i believe we all love and know Sankora as we do che. but i'd also caution against revolutionary fervor in the congo given that it does have a democracy if not the institutions to supplant one. the congo doesn't need revolutionaries, it needs movement leaders and a movement for reform that, at the outset, isn't ideological.

let's get to a better democracy and, if the congolese are so willing, leaders that spring from it that creates an ideology and system of governance that is in keeping with its history, culture, and traditions.

jose

Anonymous said...

and yes, in the congo we need "state men" as anonymous mentions.

we don't have them in the congo at this moment and a stronger state- regardless of its ideology- is what average congolese need.

i'm pretty sure a peasant in Gemena or omelette maker in kinshasa could care less about the ideological underpinning of their leaders- they want to expand the farm/business, send the kid to school without exborbant fees, perhaps buy a tv or motorbike, and other simple things...

all these things require a strong state with state and non-state institutions that can hold the state to account.

jose

Anonymous said...

@Tony

Dude, I'm not sure what you are smoking but a treatise on the need for different sphere's of influence for the Congo ain't exactly the big problem at this point.

Also, I think you are misunderstanding the Carter Center's fraud report. While they did in fact say they have no argument with the candidate results, there bone of contention was getting to those results which, from their professional perspective, lacks credibility, veracity, and a paper trail.

Does that make sense to you?

And, they are making these charges in a highly volatile environment which could have led them to tone down, considerably, their report.

Their basic point here is: NOONE can verify these results because the process of verification- led by CENI- was so tainted and a mess. As such, the official "results" cannot be trusted.

They didn't do that because they hate black people, are arrogant wealthy Atlantans, think they know better, or wish to see the Congo slide into violence. The Carter Center's observers are professionals and, as a Floridian, I can state with some assurrance they are impartial even in AMERICAN elections where the Center also made similar- if less holistic- charges during the 2000 Florida election debacle.


I get you have real problems with the "international community" and I, mostly, share that concern when it comes to the non-Western world.

But let's not get off point or off message here- we have held an election that independent observers both within and outside of the Congo have real problems with and resolving these concerns needs to be the order of the day.

We can have a conversation about the Congo's geopolitical strategy and Thomas Sankara (who I met in Miami in the early 80's by the way) at some other juncture.

Let's stick to the topic at hand and dispense with red herring arguments.

Mel

Tony said...

why being so nervous, dude? It was not me who began about Sankara.

And I did not say the Carter Center are bad guys, I only said they were to hard for the CENI, by not mentioning the enormous campaigne of rumors and lies against the CENI that has created also many problems. Also: Manono is realy the place on earth where you will find very very few people who are against Kabila, that is a reality, maybe it does not please you or objectif observers from the Carter center, but reality is still there.

This is really the last word I say on this post, before I am guilty of some people getting a hearth attack.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Tony, but being "hard" on CENI doesn't begin nor end with UDPS. And, as an independent institution of the Congolese (at least in theory anyway) they need to be held to account, right?

Your argument presumes that the UDPS is the only actor out there that lodged "rumours, lies" etc against CENI.

That isn't borne by the facts and is a pretty subjective and tangential argument on its face.

Finally, my objective should also be yours: ensuring a strong state and a democracy filled with institutions that can hold the elite to account and serve the interests of the ALL the Congolese- present and future.

Anything short of this and, in my view, you are an enemy of the Congolese and really all free peoples.

We have, at the very least, an election whose results cannot be verified or cross-checked with even a minimum of accuracy.

That is a problem, that problem falls squarely on CENI, and as the legal body tasked with ensuring it the burden of proof falls on it and NOONE else.

End of story.

This would be the case in any country so to somehow absolve CENI of this responsibility holds the Congolese to a different standard which, in my opinion, is insulting to them.

It is unfortunate some do not like CENI.

That is irrelevant and should not stop or excuse them from holding credible elections.

Mel

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Mel.

It is entirely irrelevant to the problem at hand that CENI is/has been the target of UDPS's fire.

There role is to ensure the integrity, credibility, and veracity of the election process and non-partisan Congolese and international observers have found considerable fault on this basic responsibility.

Sure, this is CENI's first go around on an election and a measure of difficulty is to be expected. The problem with that, however, is this removes responsibility of CENI to atleast try and be forthcoming about its challenges as an institution that serves the People.

On this measure, it has clearly failed and if the folks at CENI are adults they will acknowledge failure and self-correct to assure the nation they can be trusted in managing the franchise.

The Congolese are not used to developing institutions and having those institutions subject to public criticism. They need to get used to this if the country is to move forward.

What they do to get there is entirely up to them but get there they absolutely must.

Frank

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if:

a) any Congolese groups (parties or otherwise) will contest the results to the Supreme Court?

b) what the law says in this matter?

c) if Supreme Court deliberations are public or will be?

I've read the electoral law and it isn't clear what happens IF the Supreme Court rules that an election is fraudulent.

Anyone else have better/different information?

Bryce

Rich said...

It is a sad pity to note that many have been camping on this blog with the hope to lecture the world on the little they've managed to learn (only God knows for how long) about the DRC yet they know nothing yet they know nothing about the country.

I just find it disturbing that some people think they need to be rude in order to validate their point!

Tony I agree with you about Manono, the same can be said for places like Kashobwe where people like Moise Katumbi or J Kabila are more likely to gain 100% of votes... Nguz a Karl I Bond would have done a similar score in places like Kapanga, Sando, Kasaji etc...

It seems to me that some people are pulling this great blog so low that others may soon feel the need to find places where exchanges will strive to remain respectful and OBJECTIVE. I hold my hand up for sometimes responding to some personal attacks in a similarly less respectful language (which I shouldn't).

Rich

Anonymous said...

if you guys think that this is harsh debate, i think some thicker skins would be in order. so far, the discussion between mel, tony, et al., has been pretty tame. not too heavy in the ad hominem department.

Anonymous said...

rich, honestly, I think you need to relax.

noone on this blog attacks without a nice velvet glove, in jest, and without a clear and profound sense of love for the congolese. Nor, would I add, would we come here if we didn’t have an attachment nor a background to the DRC. while I am American the great love of my life and mother to my children is congolese (luba), strongly supports Kabila (she is alone in her family in this support), and also is now a voting Republican, supports Mitt Romney, and cannot stand my president.

i think Romney and Kabila are demons but, hey, that’s just me. :)

i often notice that when someone either challenges your or others assumptions the stock response is always some version of “well, you don’t know anything about the Congo, are not Congolese, therefore your ideas are irrelevant to the discussion” or “can we please not get emotional”. sure, you don’t actually say this but that is the implication. that also shuts down debate, rich, and to be clear we will not fall for that rhetorical trap.

i think its important to know that this blog doesn’t just exist for scholars. And, as a blog, it isn’t bound to the rigors of a scholarly journal. More to the point, a good deal of the com mentors are Americans and as you probably know at this point, we as a people tend to be rather aggressive, individualistic, and lovers of debate and freedom. Take a gander on any American political blog- on the left or right- and you will notice pretty virulent comments that are filled with sarcasm, snark, innuendo, and aggression. That is just how we roll my friend.

I’d also add that, as an American jew with a Congolese wife and children, the two self proclaimed jews on this blog (myself and Mel) are heirs to a tradition of intellectual debate that is also pretty aggressive. Ever read the Gemera, the scholarly interpretation of Mosaic law as written in the Talmud and compiled over thousands of years? it is filled with snark and intensity from beginning to end- kinda of like the people who created it and who had to survive mass murder and violence perpetrated by Phaorahs, Assyrians, Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, countless European monarchs from Lisbon to Moscow, Ottomans, the Nazi’s, numerous Arab regimes, the PLO....

its all in good jest, Rich, and one should never take it personally.

if you are looking for a blog that is anemic, scholarly, and even-keeled perhaps you should start one of your own that is exclusive to scholars. Unfortunately, we Americans didn’t create the Internet and the Blog to be exclusive but to be an open public forum to exchange ideas in any manner we see fit. Both cultural products are the expression of a free and democratic people and, as such, require a measure of steel to engage in.

politics ain’t for the faint of heart and, generally, is war without the gun.

it is one of my greatest hopes that the Congolese will one day soon have forums in which to engage in similar abandon. At the moment this just isn’t the case which is one reason why when it does happen it tends to be so coarse and filled with bile. well, that’s the blessings and messiness of freedom and, over time, I am sure a measure of moderation will set in as they exercise this basic human right and get on with the business of love, life and politics.


jose

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jose.

I found this wonderful quote from one of the "founders" of my Republic.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants."

-Thomas Jefferson, 1787

To the 4th Republic, my friends.

Mel

Anonymous said...

Had Kabila and his clique put up the same amount of industry in stealing an election as in governing the country, the latter would have been far better off!

Only five Cabinet meetings held from January 2011 to present (instead of four per month)...this appalling fact is very telling as to how this President cares more about his political survival than the fate of this big country and its people.

Just as I said to myself back in November 2006, the country will again lose the next five years. A real tragedy!

Bruno

Rich said...

jose -

Ref # "... honestly, I think you need to relax"

Just to say, people around me say I am the most relaxed person they've ever met and I trust this was the case when I was writing my last post and that is probably the case NOW. For the sake of loyalty, I'd rather trust what they (people around me) tell me ...

By the way, I have a clear idea of what a heated debate is or can be and the rest ... Anyway, that was just an opinion and you are, obviously, free to disagree...

Rich

Tony said...

@ jose and Mel

Really I admire the American people for their feeling for practice and for the fact they are the result of a mix of many different cultures and communities.
But their bloody history and the obsessional idea they have since the end of world warII, that the world would be better off when they rule it, is so naif and leeds to so many crimes and injustice.
So I'd say, a little bit modesty can do a lot of good also for you.

Anonymous said...

i think that in discussing congolese politics, it's important to remember that american democracy (which seems to lurk in people's minds as one of the models) took by some measures 180 years to achieve. assuming arguendo that democracy is worth aiming for, two elections, defective or not, only represent initial steps on a long, turbulent road towards the formation of a viable, self-sustaining system. the willingness of the losing parties to accept peacefully the results of the election, esp. once the supreme court has ruled, is an important part of that journey.

badibanga

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