Feb 7 2012

Negotiating electoral results in the DRC

By Marta Iniguez de Heredia, a PhD candidate in the Department of International Relations. She was a long-term electoral observer with the Carter Center in the province of Equateur. The views expressed here are her own and in no way do they represent those of the Carter Center.

Last 28 November elections gave the incumbent president Kabila the victory amidst allegations of fraud and his most prominent rival proclaiming himself president too. Over two months after, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has still not published final legislative electoral results. The task is nevertheless vast since some districts, like that of Kinshasa, had over 5.300 candidates for 51 seats. The DRC finds itself at an interesting juncture where not much has changed but its highest political institutions are paralysed until the map of political power is finally drawn up. The problem is that this map might end up reflecting more the negotiations amongst different parties, or even Kabila’s power to do away with negotiations, than the real choices voters made at the polls.

It is still too recent to make a deep political analysis of these elections and what they will entail for the DRC in the next five years. However, it seems obvious that the different attempts to manipulate electoral results have over shadowed the efforts of many to a fair and transparent process, have compromised the commitment of the Congolese people to a peaceful process, have widened gaps between the ruling and popular classes and have watered down the thought of a possible exit of the UN mission in the DRC.

Kabila’s mandate has been left in a far from firm position after many international and national electoral observation missions called the results into questions and the recent international expert mission from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) advised a general review of the electoral process. Although most observation missions remarked on issues like children’s voting, the use of violence to force voters to vote for a particular candidate or intimidations to stop observers doing their work, the main issues identified by these missions have been the results in Katanga, the loss of votes and the large amount of voters in the so-called omitted list.

In Katanga, voting participation was registered at 99.9% with close to 100% of those votes going for Kabila. Results from almost 3500 polling centres have been lost, 2000 of them in Kinshasa alone, which is considered a bastion of the opposition. Then about 17% of people voted by derogation or on the so-called omitted list. The first one applies to public officials, military or police personnel and electoral agents, while the latter allowed for possible mistakes in the registry. These were lists done on the spot for people to vote as long as they had a voters’ card. This high number jeopardises the previous safe-guards and enacted regulations against multiple voting. Moreover, electoral agents on the day applied these measures irregularly and while not controlling those multiple-registered voters who should not have voted, many others were not allowed to vote because their names were not on the list.

The results’ lack of credibility means that political power will be the fruit of negotiations between the main political contenders and not the so-call will of the people. This lack of transparency of the process has provoked a deep disappointment in a Congolese people that were already feeling more apprehensive about how the process was going to develop than enthusiastic about participating in the second democratic elections of their lifetime. Many, especially the pigmies, asserted to have only registered for the sake of having the electoral card as an identification card. They felt marginalised from the process. Similarly women were used to a large extent as electoral banners, without having given any content to what it means to have real participation and a real strategy for gender mainstreaming in the process.

As soon as results started to trickle down in December, not only did the Congolese start to riot and protest, but also common expressions to hear were: ‘I won’t vote again’, ‘this is my last time’. Voters, especially those from the middle and popular classes feel that not only their votes might have been manipulated, but that political and diplomatic compromises, and financial constraints, impose a negotiation rather than a repetition of elections.

Of course, the point is not so much the result as the process. Kabila was always playing with advantage, competing against a divided opposition, having important international allies, changing the laws in some key points that favoured his re-election a couple of months before the elections, creating phantom political parties to bulk up his allies in parliament and knowing how to use the resources at his hand to make himself a well-known candidate, (this latter being an important asset in a place with hardly any infrastructure and communications system).

Tshisekedi, the main opposition candidate, declared himself winner as well but for the moment things have kept relatively calm. However, little can be done if UDPS (Tshisekedi’s followers) decide to keep agitating and calling for a revolt against the government. The days around the first proclamation of elections and the day of elections, airports were closed, Kinshasa paralysed by riots and several police and demonstrators injured and killed in clashes. Continuous police surveillance of Tshisekedi’s residence also signals that Kabila may see Tshisekedi as a potential threat rather than as an opposition leader, now officially so after the legislative results have proclaimed the UDPS as the first party behind Kabila’s multiple-party alliance.

The fact that things have kept in relative calm during the electoral and recounting processes is both, as stated, the fruit of negotiations but also of Congolese people’s commitment to peace. However, the fact that provisory legislative results are throwing a majority of Kabila’s satellite’s parties has reduced motivating elements for the acceptance of results, leaving only the unlikely possibility that Kabila proposes a succulent post or a ministerial portfolio to opposition representatives and that opposition parties take it. On the whole, security issues underlying a still fragile context in the DRC have been more poignant and the electoral process has not contributed to a more peaceful power-sharing agreement. Rather, the ongoing armed conflict in Eastern Congo remains the same, but with a central government whose nationally-backed support is widely questioned.

It is therefore important to reflect on how popular disappointment will develop. This is not something that is likely to emerge in the near future, but it is something to bear in mind especially in a time where Africa, from Egypt and Tunisia to South Africa, going through Burkina, Mali and Angola, is in revolt. This disappointment and rage has met with those of the diaspora in Johannesburg, Paris, London and several cities in Canada. Still, as stated, the electoral process has not finished and it has still the potential to destabilise what keeps being a fragile context. The stakes are high and it would be surprising if Kabila reaches the end of his mandate this time.

These elections could give international organisations a justification to argue that the DRC is still in need of intervention and accompaniment. In particular, the potential these elections had in proving the redundant role of MONUSCO has possibly turned the other way around. In this regard, although Kabila may rely in international support and alliances keeping business as usual, state-society relations act both as a deterrent and as a hook. In other words, Kabila’s position in the international sphere has not been strengthened due to his electoral results.

On the whole, it seems that the electoral process is extending beyond its limits without giving a full representation of the electors’ choice nor serving their purpose of legitimating political authority. Now that negotiations amongst political parties seem a more strong political settlement than elections, and having people disappointed with the value of democratic expression, the issue is how long this settlement will last for. Will Kabila make it for the full extension of the mandate? As previously mentioned, my guess is no. It is highly likely that in the next few years this settlement would be compromised by either further authoritarian politics on the part of Kabila, by new foreign political or economic interventions or by the wind of revolt reaching the shores of the Congo river.

This entry was posted in Africa. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Negotiating electoral results in the DRC

  1. steve omekongo says:

    Les peuples congolais à bien acceuilli la démocratie, mais l’épine sur sa conception democratique ce que les politiciens n’ont jamais compris ce que c’est la démocratie qu’ils confondent toujours avec “la demon crash” qui veut dire l’esprit de créer le trouble, le désordre lors des élections pour aboutir à des réunions à l’étranger qui profitent aux poloticiens participants et qui leurs donne l’opportunité de rester longtemps au pouvoir.
    La fraude, il y a eu et à grande echelle durant les élections de la RDC, sans parler des intimidations légion surtout à l’equateur où les chefs de certains ont été tabassé pour avoir refusé de contribué à la fraude laur imposé par les partis de la majorité presidentielle.
    A ce jour qui approche qui? comment diriger le pays ? Les sentiments d’un bon politicien doivent jouer. La patience?, la tolerance?

  2. Faustin Katanga says:

    It’s unbelievable that the people who used preach democracy can not defend it, because all of them are looting RDC for their own purpose or to make their personal fortune, let see, President Obama who was hope for the world before its election, Mr. Obama who initiated a law in senate, its only one law in US senate, this law was about situation on RDC, and today this man is US president, a powerful man in world, why this man is silent on RDC election fraud? The choc people specially the African is that this man Obama hate African so much that all this term in white house is to fight African, Killings of African, and when they kill African Obama seems enjoy it, look in Ivory Cost, look the killing of civilian by Kabila before and after election fraud, no word from US government, I can not mentioned Hillary Clinton because Congolese holocaust has been planned by her husband Mr. Bill Clinton and executed their best friend Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the most chocking is that Monusco, UN body was co-authors of this election fraud in RDC, no word from UN as they acted in Ivory Coast, when you look manipulation of language used by US and allies on RDC election, I have desire to cry , because these people are criminals, they don’t even feel bad for themselves and shame when they have as their ally Kabila cheater, democracy is dead in African because today the champion of democracy don’t anymore the argument or lesson to give to anybody about democracy today. Look around of the world today, in Senegal because of elections complicity in which white people are engaged themselves, they are unable to tell Wade to go or to stop its political behaviors in Senegal, every Africans president will try to play Congolese trick means they will take as example Congolese election fraud as model to cheat election in their countries, therefore the losers after all are the so called big democracies today they can not pretend to be civilized and democratic nations, all of them are in same level with Africans countries by allowed and tolerate election fraud in their interest, democracy is over in world.

  3. Faustin Katanga says:

    As African we have lost a lot humanly in slave’s business by white people for many years, we have lost a lot economically by the same white people, if Congolese are loosing their victory today stolen by Kabila and allies it’s not a new thing to us but they big losers are not us African or Congolese, instead the losers are white people who their nations are based on democracy, today they can not come up telling Africans how to democrats, these white people nations can not use elections and democracy to destroy Africans countries anymore, they don’t have non fuel in their tanks anymore which they can used as excuse to colonized Africans countries anymore, all Africans know now that white people nations who used democracy as excuse are liars, they are not democrats as they used pretend therefore white people nations are done, they have finished, it’s a shame.

  4. Joachim says:

    What a joke! The truth of the matters is in the Congo, despite all the irregularities, there was a winner, but the western countries do not want this winner, so they can carry on doing their dodgy business in the Congo. Kabila does not have power. The real powers behind Kabila are in Washington, Londo, Paris and Brussels lecturing the world about democracy and good governance which they do not believe in themselves. Why not tell the world that even, the UN forces in the Congo are part of Congo problems, and as such have themselves contributed in this struggling process of fake and foxy election in the Congo? I tell you what, We africans we know that you know, Kabila was not, has never been elected president of the Congo. Only, time will tell, but believe me, the western countries will be shamed to dead, and I don’t know what they will telling the world about democracy.

  5. marta iniguez says:

    Thanks a lot for your messages. Actually, all of you highlight an important question in regards to what is democracy and who participates in it. Unfortunately, fraud seems to be a feature of mass voting. Accusations of manipulation in the 2000 and 2004 elections in the United States, the suspicion of mafia intervention in the Italian elections of 2006 and 2008, or the fraud ‘by the sock’ in the municipal elections in Perpignan, in France, are only a few examples. Another issue that your messages raise is that of the different forms of power and their forms of accountability. Maybe the problem is not a problem with Africa but a problem with the model. Sure there are things to change and improve in Africa. As you all have pointed out, authoritarianisms and forms of interventions that destroy Africa need to come to an end. Maybe that is the reason why it is worthwhile thinking about mechanisms for real political participation.

    Merci beaucoup pour vos messages. En fait vous soulignez une question très important par rapport à qu’est-ce que c’est la démocratie et qu’y participe. Malheureusement, la fraude semble être une caractéristique du vote massif. Les accusations de manipulation du vote aux États Unies dans les années 2000 et 2004, les soupçons d’intervention de la mafia dans les élections italiennes en 2008 et 2006, ou la fraude « à la chaussette » dans les élections municipales en Perpignan, en France, sont seulement quelques exemples. Une autre question qui vous messages me suggèrent c’est celui de penser les différentes formes de pouvoir et les formes de les tenir responsables. Peut-être le problème n’est pas un problème de l’Afrique, mais un problème du modèle. Bien sûr qu’il y a des choses à changer et améliorer en Afrique. Comme vous l’avez signalé, les autoritarismes et les formes d’intervention qui laissent l’Afrique détruite doivent finir. Mais cela est pourquoi il vaut la peine de penser les mécanismes pour une participation politique véritable.

  6. La proclamation des résultat électorale n’a pas impacté beaucoup sur la vie socioéconomique et politique de la province du Sud Kivu. La majorité de la population du Sud Kivu est resté sereine car la plus part d’elle reste toujours dans des zones insécurisées voir non accessible raison pour laquelle elle manifeste un silence par crainte d’éventuel attaque ou enlèvement. Ces élections dans l’urbain comme dans le rural étaient caractérisé par une forme de clivage selon les Pro Majorités Présidentiel et les Pro Opposition à Bukavu l’appartenance à l’un de camp politique devrait influencer sur son électorat. Deux candidats étaient célèbre, Vital KAMERHE le candidat numéro 5 et Joseph KABILA le numéro 3.
    Nous avions observés plusieurs agitations et des tiraillements des députés alignés au sein d’une même famille politique ; soulevèrent les cas des fraudes grave, irrégularité et imperfection dans les déroulement de ce scrutin. L’opposition était beaucoup caractérisée par l’observation car tenait beaucoup sur les résultats affichés aux différents bureaux de vote de la place malgré toute les déclarations faite par certain membre de la majorité.

    C’est sur ces même plaintes et accusations que le candidat numéro 5 va reformuler une plainte et contesta les résultats publiaient par Ngoy MULUNDA et confirmé par la cour suprême de la justice. Malgré cette contestation l’honorable Vital KAMERE a proposé une voie d’issue de la crise qui consistant soit au recomptage dans le centre de compilation ou à l’annulation pure et simple du résultat suite à ces erreurs grave préméditées et taillées à la mesure d’une tendance politique .
    Compte tenu de ces publications (présidentielle et législative) il s’observe actuellement plusieurs défis qui pourront retarder le pays dans le processus de son développement au cas ou les grands leader politique ne faites pas un consensus politique .
    Parmi ces défis nous citons: la naissance des conflits tribal ;les sentiments politique et intérêt politique ; les parrainage politique ;les pressions internationale et en fin la naissance des groupes armés.
    Vis-à-vis de toute ces situations précités il est préférable de songer plus aux risques ou aux conséquences que de songer aux pouvoir ou les intérêts politique .C’est pourquoi l’atténuation de toutes ces risques pour permettre une bonne gouvernance ne peux êtres effective que par des négociations entre les parties de ces 10 candidats à la présidence. Une création d’un conseil de crise politique qui représente toute les tendances servirait un élément de pression et de plaidoyer pour la bonne marche de la démocratie et le développement du pays.
    Quant à ce qui concerne le gouvernement il est préférable que la majorité dirige seule et que l’opposition trouve un plan d’action commun et réaliste à condition qu’il ne soit contesté par la majorité dans le but de préparer les élections de 2016

  7. Romy says:

    Cet article décrit à merveille la situation de la période pré-électorale, électorale et post-électorale en RDC. Et c’est vraiment regrettable que nous nous trouvions dans cette situation de léthargie et de chao à cause des irrégularités et fraudes (préméditées) qui ont caractérisées les élections de novembre 2011. Et c’est aussi vrai que le gouvernement Joseph Ka. n’est plus légitime – bien que légal à cause des manipulations des textes légaux- et pour cela il n’est pas confortable à l’esprit humain d’imaginer sa gouvernance jusqu’en 2016 date de prochaines élections. En ce qui concerne les négociations, cela peut être une solution toutefois personnellement elle ne me semble pas évidente d’autant plus que les vérités auxquelles les uns tiennent sont les mensonges pour les autres. On dirait le dialogue entre musulmans et chrétiens. Tout en acceptant que les négociations soient possibles, je ne voie que deux alternatives pour le moment. Soit Joseph Kabila devient Caligula ou Joseph Mobutu, un homme-dieu dictateur haï mais craint ; soit le peuple congolais dit non à tous les hommes-dieux qui compromettent le rêve congolais et disent oui au ‘’débout congolais’’ en poursuivant la vague des récentes révoltes africaines. Malheureusement la première alternative me semble plus probable que la deuxième. A part la crise politique dans laquelle nous nous trouvons grâce aux résultats des élections de novembre passé, je voudrais enfin mettre en relief quelques retombées socio-morales de ces fameux résultats : 1. La réélection de Joseph est perçue par beaucoup des congolais comme un frein à l’avancement du pays malgré son slogan de la ‘’modernisation du pays’’. 2. Les irrégularités, fraudes et manipulations des textes légaux dans le processus électoral de 2011 ainsi que la propagande et sophisme des gouvernants ont causé un problème moral dans l’âme du congolais en le désarçonnant et ébranlant tous les repères éthiques, en renversant le bien et le mal, de façon qu’il n’est pas étonnant d’attendre un élève dire :’’ Donc si j’obtiens 48% aux examens, je dois monter de classe’’. Cela encourage les anti-valeurs dont souffre la société congolaise depuis trois décennies déjà. (Pour plus d’info http://www.mediacongo.net/show.asp?doc=19623 ). 3. Ces résultats et la pérennisation de Joseph au pouvoir sont un obstacle à la poursuite des criminels de guerre en RDC car selon le gouvernement les livrer c’est ‘’compromettre la paix chèrement acquise’’ et malgré le slogan de ’’ tolérance zéro’’. Ainsi donc les Bosco Taganda et autres continueront à courir et à semer la terreur sur leur passage. Pour dire que la justice restera un rêve en RDC, or sans justice pas de paix, sans paix pas de développement. On ne pourra avoir que la justice du plus fort dont l’opposition restera dans les collimateurs (voire la récente arrestation de l’Hon. Mitondeke de l’UNC, Jacques Shalupa http://www.mediacongo.net/show.asp?doc=19776, Jacquemain Shabani Lukoo de l’UDPS http://www.mediacongo.net/show.asp?doc=19830 ). De toutes les façons les gouvernants ont intérêts de conserver le chaos pour se protéger car ils ont presque tous les mains sales. De l’autre côté, les élections de novembre 2011, à mon humble avis, ont prouvé que l’opposition congolaise est loin d’être mieux que ceux qui sont au pouvoir. En bref, cela car tout comme le gouvernement ils ont fait preuve de privilégier leurs intérêts et agos au détriment de l’intérêt du peuple et leur unification pour faire face à un pouvoir qui leur montrait déjà qu’en ordre dispersé ils diminuaient leur chance. Le seul avantage de voir l’opposition gagner les élections était et reste l’alternance au pouvoir.
    @Faustin and Joachim, suis d’accord avec vous que nous souffrons du néo-colonialisme. Toutefois sachons que nous avons toujours un choix à faire. Même si le concept choix ne semble souvent pas être dans le dictionnaire africain d’autant plus que nous prenons tout comme une fatalité. Complaining doesnt help ! Inspirons-nous des gens comme Lumumba, Kwamé Khruma, Gandhi et Martin L K, et nous sauverons l’Afrique. Une vraie indépendance ne se donne pas, mais on l’arrache. Et tout commence par soi-même. Le changement intérieur. Que Dieu vous bénisse mes frères de sang et de couleur, que Dieu bénisse la RDC et le monde entier.

  8. Pingback: Africaye.org | Salir del asombro | Blog colectivo para comprender África Subsahariana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *