Saturday, January 14, 2006

Voting in DR Congo

According to the Population Reference Bureau's DR Congo Country Profile, the mid-2005 estimated population is 60,764,000 people. Of this, 48% are under the age of 15, so we can probably assume that at least 50% and probably a bit more are under the age of majority (18 years).

Thus, some 25-30 million people are eligible to vote. According to a number of news articles, 25 million people were registered to vote, which is pretty amazing considering the logistics of registering voters in a country with little to no history of and experience with polls, and difficult access and logistics to register voters. 15.5 million people actually cast votes in the constitutional referendum that was held last month.

Though the Independent Electoral Commission reported in the article that there were some irregularities in the polls, they have stated that these results have been annulled. The 61.97% of registered voters who cast ballots approved the constitution with an 84.31% majority.

Part of the reason that the remaining 15.69% of voters did not affirm the constitution may have been that veteran politicion Etienne Tshisekedi, who had served as prime minister for decades under the former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko prior to 1997, had called for a boycott of the proceedings, partially due to the fact that the constitution called for granting citizenship to all people who had been living in DR Congo prior to independence in 1960. He felt that the constitution was "selling the country to foreigners."

Copyright Eddy Isangoro/IRIN

Tshisekedi, leader of the Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS), eventually rescinded his boycott, and has decided to join the presidential race, set for March of this year.

InsideJustice has an excellent post that summarizes the referendum process and DR Congo voting information.

x-posted to Adventures of a Retired Armchair Traveler.



Denis said...

Tshisekedi was shortly Prime Minister 3 times in only one decade. He's been Minister of Internal Affairs and participated in the writings of a couple of Constitutions. He was also a founding father of "the Revolution" and the MPR, he took part in writing the N’Sele Manifesto. After years of working within the system, he was one of the few to have the guts to create an opposition party, the UDPS. With Marcel Lihau and others they lead the Nation Convention to democratize the country, but we know where that lead to. When the peace agreements that lead to the current Transition Government were signed, he did not get any post in the Governement.

Having him in the presidential race is good in all regards.

Congogirl said...

Thanks for the extra info, and agreed that his involvement is a positive.

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