After an extended election period marred by instances of violence, mass logistical problems and widespread fraud allegations, yesterday saw four of the 11 Presidential candidates in the DRC calling for an annulment of the polls, citing several irregularities – including the use of state mechanisms by Kabila, the non-opening of polling stations and the absence of witnesses during vote counting – which they claimed undermined the democratic nature of the proceedings.
In response to the call, Daniel Mgoy Mulunda, head of the electoral commission (CENI), affirmed that the results would NOT be annulled, and invited the four candidates to await results, scolding them for “jumping to conclusions before time”. He defended the election process, stating that only 485 polling stations out of 63,000 had experienced irregularities forwarded by the candidates. “It is less than 1 per cent of polling stations which experienced difficulties, the other 99 per cent functioned well”, noted Mr. Mulunda.
In an interesting twist, Radio Okapi has this evening announced that one of the four candidates had in fact NOT called for the nullification of results. A representative of Vital Kamerhe – whom many see as the next most popular opposition candidate, after Tshisekedi – reportedly called Radio Okapi this afternoon, stating that Kamerhe had not been amongst those calling for a nullification of results, contrary to a statement given by CENI, and reported by Radio Okapi, yesterday evening.
Tshesekedi too has been mysteriously quiet – possibly due to awareness of the international scrutiny on candidates to maintain peace throughout the country despite diverse issues relating to the elections. Despite the widespread logistical difficulties and late-openings of polling stations inWesternKasaiProvince(his traditional stronghold), whilst denouncing voting irregularities, he has made no move to condemn the outcome of polls. On the contrary, a party spokesperson yesterday announced that UDPS were confidently awaiting Tshisekedi to be confirmed winner upon official publication of results.
This apparent split in opinion does not appear to be limited to Presidential candidates. Observers too have been divided in their reaction to the polls, with a coalition of five independent observation bodies, including the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region releasing a joint statement hailing the “success” of the elections and calling on political stakeholders to “show responsibility” in accepting the outcome of the polls.
Other bodies have not been so forgiving, with a joint observation mission of the European Network for Central Africa (EUrac) and the AETA (Action for transparent and Peaceful Elections) denouncing several logistical and fraud-related incidents reported. In a press statement, they called on CENI to take all necessary measures against ballot papers being tampered with, and to clarify the situation regarding such tampering to the public, and to take such findings into account to ensure the electoral process continues in a “transparent and peaceful way”.
Similarly, as this blog goes to press, the European Union is reportedly undertaking a “Campaign for Peace”, and is approaching all major political parties in an appeal for a peaceful response to the elections. The Ambassador of the European Union in the DRC, Richard Zinck, applauded voting participation but admitted that the polls had been plagued by many problems. Preceding the EU mission releasing their official report tomorrow, Zinck appealed for calm during the counting, compilation and announcement of results, urging all parties to respect the electoral process and reminding them that the only legitmate way to challenge the results was through the official legal channels.
“Peace” and “Calm” appear to be the key words on all international spokesperson’s lips in this tense post-vote moment. International observers are ostensibly growing increasingly worried about prospects for violence in the face of mounting claims of fraud and other voting-related issues which call into question election results. The key figure around which much of the concern revolves is Tshisekedi. Should his name fail to be announced in a weeks time, as he ‘confidently awaits’, many fear that he will incite his followers to violent protest against the elections.
Until time runs out, we are all reduced to playing a watching-and-waiting game. Once the counter is up on this tense waiting period, this time bomb could well explode.
Posted By Charlie Walker
Posted Nov 30th, 2011