After yesterday’s somewhat guardedly optimistic blog about Congolese Election Day, it is becoming clearer that many Congolese people are unhappy about the voting process and the possible outcome, and many more are fearful of violent reactions from political groups.
According to the NY Times, the head of CENI is threatening to disqualify thousands of opposition votes, due to attacks on polling stations in areas mostly loyal to Etienne Tshisekedi and other opposition candidates. This, along with all the stories of voting fraud and violence filtering in from around the country, is sure to leave many Congolese feeling disenchanted with the entire process. In addition, many international observers have described the voting process as chaotic and “problematic”. A few independent organizations have publicly denounced voting irregularities.
In even more interesting news, the BBC is reporting that 4 opposition candidates, including Vital Kamerhe, are declaring the entire election fraudulent and demanding an annulment of the results. These candidates are specifically accusing the CENI and Joseph Kabila of being responsible for voting irregularities (see the link for a list of the alleged irregularities). Again, potentially troubling, as further delays and further mistrust in the process may signal an increase in violent confrontations between opposition supporters and state security elements.
Kabila’s constitutional mandate will end on December 6th. If there is no clear winner by then, or if the loser(s) reject the declared winner of the election, it may be the start of a new era of violence and unrest in the Congo.
At this critical juncture, Congo still has the potential to spiral out of control. Will Congo descend into the post-election madness experienced by Cote d’Ivoire earlier this year? Right now, it seems entirely possible.
Yesterday, I spoke with a Bujumbura-residing Uvirois who had went back to Uvira to vote over the weekend; he grimly showed me the ink-stain on his thumb with which he certified his ballot. He told me that Uvira was calm and violence-free on Election Day. However, he expressed strong dissatisfaction with the entire election process, based on the numerous accounts of fraud and violence from other regions. He also bemoaned the lack of international election observers in Uvira. While not a representative sample, the angry words and angry actions being expressed by many Congolese across the country are testament to a common spirit of discontent with the voting process for those who are hoping to unseat Kabila.
Posted By WALTER JAMES
Posted Nov 30th, 2011