Thursday, January 12, 2006

DR Congo: The Congolese backed New Constitution

As noted by several French speaking blogs and websites, including Afrique Centrale Info, as well as on the BBC, the Electoral Commission in the DRC has announced the official provisional results of the Referendum.

According to official results from the 18 December referendum, released on Wednesday, 84.31% voted in favour of the constitution to 15.69% against, with a participation rate of 61.97%.

This announcement is a necessary step for the results to be considered by the Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide on the validity of the results. There is little doubt that the high judicial body will accept the results. The Congolese people have therefore already got - virtually at least - their new constitution.

The adoption of this new text paves the way to new polls, the first free ones in the country since 1965. The future legislature will have the heavy task to review some of the potentially conflicting provisions of the constitution, especially in the job description of the President and the Prime Minister. They will also have to oversee a substantial decentralisation process, which will see the Congo divided, in 36 months, into 26 semi-autonomous provinces (as opposed to the centralized and purely administrative 11 provinces it has today). The new provinces more or less match - in territory - the current districts (2nd degree subdivisions).

Many Congolese diaspora have expressed concerns on the fact that the New Constitution changes - for the 2nd time in 10 years, and the 5th time since independance - the flag, arms and motto of the country, thus incurring unnecessary costs in printing of the flags, IDs, passports, etc. Even the current Voting IDs, which are the only official IDs in the country, are printed with current flag. It seems the politicians do not always think further than the tip of their noses (or egos).


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