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

Friday, December 16, 2011

The US response to the elections

On Thursday, the US Senate held a hearing on elections in the Congo. It is worthwhile reading the statement submitted by Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jonnie Carson. After stating that the elections "were deficient in many ways," he says:
We continue to advocate that all Congolese political leaders and their supporters act responsibly, renounce violence, and resolve any disagreements through peaceful constructive dialogue and existing legal remedies.  We believe that a rapid technical review of the electoral process by the Congolese authorities may shed light on the cause of the irregularities, suggest ways in which governance could be structured to give better effect to the will of the Congolese people, and provide guidance for future elections (my italics).
At the moment I write this, the Supreme Court has apparently rejected Kamerhe's lawsuit and will no doubt confirm Kabila as president, so the "existing legal remedies" have been exhausted. As far as I can tell, this statement means the United States is not calling for anything but a technical review to "provide guidance for future elections,"  not to provide redress for this vote.

One of the reasons seems to be the following logical fallacy: There were serious irregularities, but we don't know if these would have changed the outcome of the elections - so we shouldn't be so alarmed? I admit, I am paraphrasing, but that logic has been expressed by the Congolese government, as well as perhaps even by Carson:
It is important to note that we do not know—and it might not be possible to determine with any certainty whether the final order of candidates would have been different from the provisional results had the management of the process been better.
It's not clear to me how this matters. If there were massive irregularities, and we don't know who won - isn't that a good reason to push for steps to address the flaws in the current elections, not just to make policy five years down the road? Instead, the Congolese government has interpreted this as meaning, "we don't call into question who won the elections," which neither the Carter Center or EU missions said. Instead, these missions concluded: We don't know who won these elections. And we should.

The testimonies by Carson, as well as those of Tony Gambino (ECI), Mark Schneider (ICG), Mvemba Dizolele (Hoover Institution) and Jonnie Carson can be found here.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not surprise by the decision of the Congolese Supreme Court. I am geussing that the international community would not put any pressure on the Congolese government to resolve the election that many observers call "Not credible." It is sad that the voice of the Congolese in this 2011 election may not be known. I am disappointed with the CENI, Kabila's administration, and the foreign diplomats in the Congo. AT least, there is a lesson the Congolese learned from this "democracy". People's voice does not matter. CENI does.

Anonymous said...

Just a chirurgical review is not the answer to the chaotic Congo. I am wondering if it's not high time to start thinking "small is beautiful"

Anonymous said...

Now that Western countries support Kabila fraud, We young congolese announces officially to join terrorism groups to advocate our rights.

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure if i should laugh or cry at your statement, anon 12/16 12:29pm.

...or join you.

jose "the disgusted american"

Anonymous said...

Hi JasonI I find your analysis realistic and close to the one of congolese well-educated people. And this because you've been living in Congo for a long time. You know under what physical and mental suffering congelese people are living.

It is known that "Fraus omnia corrumpit'.

What do people want more ?

Amani

Anonymous said...

Today, Congolese government officials are decrying "western observers" for their supposed interference in the recent elections and cheering the "african observers".

For the moment, I won't comment on the irony of authoritarian regimes like Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, and Burundi giving weight to free and fair elections.

As a Greek American, I'd say get used to international institutions controlling a nation's fate.

Had it not been for sovereign debt ratings agencies my ancestral homeland wouldn't be reeling from its debt crisis, the same wouldn't be happening in other European nations, and Americans wouldn't be focused so obsessively with deficits.

The world is run by unaccountable institutions my friends.

Africans had better get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Carson can't get Kabila on the phone. That's pretty telling. Time for him to go.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe that Congolese authrotiy are going to have a free ride as they would like to think. One can notice a change in the tone of Congolese authorities who have water down their discourses. The "mistakes" in the electoral process which Kabila acknowleged are the very pitfalls in which the credibility of this election has been burried. We are in this situation because of short sighted strategits and over-zealous Kabila's loyalists. In fact, the only thing they are loyal to is their personal interests. May be Kabila could have won this election without the pre-filled voting bulletins or the ridiculous stats of North Katanga. Mulunda and the cohort of Kabilists, including those in the supreme court of justice, have completely discreCdited their leader. In fact, these elections have shed light on the true nature of Kabila and his regime. It is just stupid to think that 20.000 mercenaries can stiflle the will of millions of Congolese. Kabila is about to reach the same levels of impopularity of Mobutu in the 1990's. As political nature abhors vaccum,the big boys will look for alternative. Hopefully this alternative will consider the aspirations of the great Congolese people.

Anonymous said...

I think that you, too, are trying to put words into the mouths of the Carter Center and the US government! What they said is that there were irregularities, but they don't know if the irregularities are enough to change the order of the winner and losers as announced by the electoral commission. It's that simple :-)

Anonymous said...

I feel so helpless.

I don't know what to do.

What can Americans do?

Roger Edigo said...

Dear congolese,
Once again LUMUMBA had all the reasons to believe that our freedom and independence will no come from our yesterday ennemies(Belgium,France and USA),these countries are in the business of supporting dictatorship regimes in Africa(KAGAME,Museveni,kanambe). Kanambe alias Kabila is incompetent to lead a country like Congo.there is no way Kabila could win election in Congo, Tshisekedi has support inside and outside of the country, we haven't seen anyone marching, or supporting Kabila's win. i am inviting all Congolese leaving in the USA NOT TO VOTE for Obama in this coming election.
Nevi

Anand said...

I am sorry to say that I don't, in any way, find this "response" unexpected. It is full of all of the logical flaws that Jason has pointed out. Although the Carter Center has fallen short of saying they know for certain that irregularities would have changed the outcome, they have been firm in saying that the irregularities make the election lack credibility. That's at least more true to the fact than this "statement." Forgive the American analogy, but these words are the equivalent of the teacher talking in Charlie Brown, "wah, wah, wah, wah..."
I have yet to hear an official statement of any significance from secretary Clinton. Ambassador Entwistle is just echoing the company line. In obvious answer to your question Jason, YES, there is plenty of reason to deal with the current situation and not wait five years to revisit the issue. But you know, as well as anybody, that this urgency doesn't dictate US policy. I think it behooves all of us to continue to do what we can, in our little spheres of influence, to keep light on the topic.

Anonymous said...

It is revealing to notice that CENI has decided to:
- stop compiling results for parliamentary elections
- seek technical assistance from MONUSCO for upcoming results
As per link below:
http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2011/12/16/legislatives-rdc-la-ceni-suspend-momentanement-les-travaux-de-compilation/
These steps are in line with the USA administration demands. I also notice that the official announcement was made by J Djoli and not Ngoy Mulunda. I wouldn't be surprised if Ngoy Mulunda was progessively sidelined...he worked so hard, he needs a rest now...
If one reads between the lines, his statement casts further doubts on the results announced for the presidency. I am sorry to say that this comes too late for some, who will rightly feel cheated.
The only unknown element here is how we will the opposition react.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of CHISEKEDI's supporters trying to convince the world that theire candidate has won the elections.yes everyone agrees that there was irregularities but that does not mean that out of 11 candidates ,CHISEKEDI was the winner . Fraud or not ,there is no way CHISEKEDI could beat KABILA in his Swahili speaking EAST,and there is no way KABILA could beat CHISEKEDI in the KASAI .and whit Bemba's absence no one among the 11Candidate apart from Nzanga Mobutu could challenge Kengo in EQUATEURE. Kamerhe was a spoiler against KABILA and KASHALA was also a spoiler against CHISEKEDI ,but KASHALA can't compete with CHISEKEDI in KASAI and Kamerhe can never beat KABILA in the Kivus. So with a very divide and desorganised opposition KABILA new he was going to WIN but he did not want to WIN with 35%. and that's the reason wy the rigging happened. When the Carter Center and the international community says tha the irregularly dit not change the outcome of the vote ,they mean that KABILA won but the 49% is way higher than the percentage tha KABILA got on the last count. They know very well that KABILA won the elections but not with 49% but may be 36.9%.

Anonymous said...

there is one expression that says it all when talking about this huge mess that are those "elections": "money talks, bulls**t walks".
Follow the money, to who benefit the so called victory of Kabila, what bussiness circles and what neighbouring and other countries have financial interests in the DRC.
It is a shame.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 2:59 am
You seem to have a very good insight on how the fraud worked. If Kabila won with maybe 36.9%, how can you be sure that Tshisekedi (and not Chisekedi !) only received 32.3% of the vote ?
The only certainty is that J Kabila massively cheated. To what extent we will probably never know.
I suggest you stop misquoting the Carter Center as they clearly said that they could not give an opinion on whether the final order of candidates was altered by the various irregularities. Lastly, most people talk about international observers without mentioning national ones...Iguess their voice doesn't matter; just like congolese voters.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3:02 am
Couldn't agree more. How the DRC will stabilise will be achieved with such a divisive outcome ? only time will tell.
I can understand that some economic interests will be satisfied with J Kabila "election". At the same time, if stability and prosperity don't trickle down to the average person in the DRC, I suspect a wider social unrest will happen at some point in the future and Congo's friends today will stand by.

Anonymous said...

The problems in DRCongo are the so called " Joseph Kabila, the president of DRCongo " but Hypolithe Kanambe by his true name, who is a native of Rwanda and former Rwandan solier get help from USA (CIA), UK and Kagame Paul ( Rwanda President) and Museveni(Uganda president) to get the power in DRCongo. Now that Congolese people know that and refuse to vote him. The so called International communities try to bring him to the power instead for Tshisekedi, who win the election because of economical interest of Western Countries in DRCongo. My Question is now, when there is some electoral fraud in Russia, Clinton has made a public statement. In the Case of DRCongo, no one is speaking.

Is it the democracy selective?

Kagame is close to Bill clinton, the former US president that during his mandate, the US helps Kagame entered DRCongo ( Zaire) and Kabila is supported by Kagame and Clinton is the US State department chief is it possible to get change in DRCongo political?

Now that we see that USA, Western countries are supporting Rwanda, Uganda to kill more than 6 millions of our brothers and systers in RDCongo for economical interested and Help the so called Hypolyte Kanambe alias " Joseph Kabila, the Fraud winner of Election " we have the right and option to defend our rights including by terrorism actions, Wapons and all options to defend our country against Rwanda, Uganda and Western countries invasion.

To finish my analyse, We congolese understand now, the reason of El-shabah are fighting, Taliba, and others. When economical interested become more important that democraty and free speech, it become important to be associate with other to defend people interest.

It's the begining of the fight and the fight will be popular. Ingeta

Anonymous said...

Woh congolese are gettin mad just be carefull we have drones
and wegonna use them if attacket by any body including
congo. If your body is trong than you donot fight him join
him.

Anonymous said...

Please stop your HIPOLYTE KAGAME bs, that NGBANDA garbage has no effect at all, it may work with some ignorant thugs in the diaspora,but that tactic will never help you get KABILA out of office. If the opposition was smart they should have listen to KAMERHE and Kengo and unit under on Candidate,but theire arrogance and luck of deal making ability made them go it alone.I hop that next time they learn to organise and forge alliances. The oppositions had 5 years to organise around the entire country ,but they wasted the entire 5years parading western capitals beging western governments to overthrow KABILA on theire behalf ,and organising theire diaspora thugs to terrorize any Congoles citizen who does not agree with them in order to show the world that all Congoles are against KABILA . In consequence,2 weeks before the elections there was only PPRD offices visible all around the country.by taking theire campaign and movement 5000 miles outside Congo(PARIS,BRUXELLS,JOHANESBOURG,LONDON ...)the UDPS just demonstrated that they do not care about the Congoles electorate .by rejecting any talk about a united opposition they did nothing but shooting themselves in the foot.I hop they spend the next five years inside Congo and not only in Kinshasa,but in KISANGANI,GOMA,MBANDAKA,BUKAVU,ISIRO.....

Vincent Harris said...

Nobody can be certain that uniting the opposition candidates would have been a better strategy. And to claim that Tshisekedi did not won assumes we know who did. It also assumes rigging of the outcome would not have occurred if Tshisekedi had united the opposition parties. Tshisekedi in reality run a surprisingly strong campaign with very large crowds both in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. The support among the diaspora is immense. Off course he didn't exactedly forge great relations with diplomats and made some statements that weren't very smart. But I am not sure even if he had done better his best to please diplomats and people like Colette Braeckman that it would have helped him anything. Some would still have found ways to justify support for the status quo.

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:34 AM and 6:55 PM

I totally agree with 4:34 PM. Given the will shown by the Kabila regime from the onset of the electoral process (last minute change of constitution, appointment of Ngoyi ''puppet'' Mulunda...)to totally control the results, a united opposition might as well found itself pitted against the same results that totally lack of credibility.
I would also like to add that Tshisekedi did'nt win all these votes only by campaigning, in fact, the Kabila regime had already lost much of its lustre - if it had any - long time before the campaign. Much of the people who voted for Tshisekedi were only waiting for a chance to express their will thru vote and get rid of Kabila. Now that they've been robbed of that chance, their frustration and anger is high and I think that they will passively, as so often in Congo, make things harder for Kabila in the next 5 years. We are entering the kind of "Pourrissement" Mobutu suffered in his last 5 years.

Anonymous said...

@Vincent Harris
Reading Colette Braeckman blogs give you an idea of the confusion of the entire situation. She initially suggested that Tshisekedi might have won because of general disappointment with J Kabila government. As CENI numbers kept pouring in and giving the agreed script of a commanding lead by J Kabila, she changed her story. According to her, an opposition win was an illusion entertained by people who did not know about the DRC many ethnic allegiances. Finally, as it become impossible to deny fraud and vote rigging, she changed her story again. Now it is about the DRC's stability.
To cut a long story short, J Kabila massively cheated but it doesn't really matter because his power comes from the West (USA and EU) and neighbouring countries (African brothers !).
Will stability be achieved ? I doubt it
What about Congolese voters ? If their leaders don't care, why should we.

Anonymous said...

@anon 5:01 AM
Some leaders do care, some don't, as it happens in every countries. The problem with our countries is - among others - that civil society is week, broken by years of dictatorship or authoritarian (democracy ?) rule that of course won't allow any challenge to their powers. The fact is that these regime have accomplices abroad...you can help by denouncing them and by helping uncover the mechanisms and violence thru which these partners-in-crime wish to fool us and maintain us under submission

Anonymous said...

@anon 5:19 AM
The 1776 USA declaration of independence says:
"(...) That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government(...)"
It is up to the Congolese people....the rest of the world will always adapt. Maybe years of dictatorship or authoritarian rule have killed any fighting spirit. If so, you can't expect countries/people that benefit from that exploitation to help you free yourselves.

Anonymous said...

@anon 5:44 AM
I think you did'nt understand me well. Our struggle, we will fight it. But any help is welcome, notably in helping unravel the complex mechanisms that so often eludes us when it comes to the web of under-dealings and double language between your leaders and some of ours.

Anonymous said...

@anon 5:50 AM
I am ready to help in any way I can.

Anonymous said...

To resume your comments. There is only one solution Kabila must go. No more Kabila in DRCongo. No more Rwanda presence in DRC. Kabila must GO now.

Anonymous said...

I think it would have been naive to think that the so-called international community would intervene at this stage. They really weren't eager to offer much help from the beginning. The entire preparation for the elections had bad news all over it and gave us the indication what to expect from the results. In a way it should have been the Congolese responsibility to ensure the quality of elections. But if that's the case why send massive number of foreign observers to conclude something just as a report if it won't be acted upon. I find this another example of western hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

The best lesson to all this is that no body cares about Congolese, the opposition or Joseph Kabila. Africans particularly congolese in this case should be ashamed. Selfishness and egocentrism will always be the cause of our suffering. Remember eat your stolen wealth today but your grand children will pay in the future. Don't lie to your children that you love them by leaving a destroyed country/continent. If you really love them don't deceive them by your actions. Start building a good foundation of ethics.

Anonymous said...

http://www.lalibre.be/actu/international/article/707608/l-anr-au-service-d-un-candidat.html

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