April 10, 2006, The Independent Electoral Commission released the list of presidential candidates for the upcoming elections in the Congo. Of the 73 individuals who registered to participate in the presidential race, 32 met the requirements of the electoral law. Although there are 32 candidates, many observers believe that the bulk of these candidates will not make it to election day. The Kinshasa newspaper "Le Potentiel" suggests that many of the candidates are suspected of entering the race at the behest of Joseph Kabila in exchange for a potential ministry position.And quick facts:
A cursory look at the list of presidential candidates will also reveal that in large part, it is made up of those who have benefited from state coffers at the expense of the Congolese, particularly the former Mobutuists and those who were at the state trough during the transitional government (2003 - present).
Legislative Race - Over 8,000 candidates registered for the legislative race. However, in all likelihood the number of candidates that will have met the electoral commission requirements will be much smaller than the 8,000 plus who submitted their applications. A preliminary analysis of the deposits made at the central bank by the Director General of "la Direction générale des recettes administratives" reveals that 1,620 candidates have made the required $250 deposit. The Independent Electoral Commission, however has not released the list of legislative candidates who qualify to run for office.
The Independent Electoral Commission is expected to set a new election date by April 19. The original date of June 18, 2006 will be changed to a later date.
Without a doubt all eyes are focused on the presidential race. Long-time pro-democracy advocate, Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union For Democratic and Social Progress (UDPS in French) political party did not submit his candidacy. The UDPS has chosen to boycott the elections unless and until the electoral commission allows UDPS advocates who boycotted the registration process leading up to the constitutional referendum of 2005 to register to participate in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections. The Electoral Commission has rejected UDPS' request to open the registration rolls because it claims opening up registration at this stage will further delay the elections.
A number of analysts believe that with Tshisekedi opting out of the elections, this will make it easier for Joseph Kabila to win and remain in office. Nonetheless, the lack of participation by UDPS only adds to the uncertainty about the political climate and stability of post election Congo. There has been and continues to be a strong feeling among Congolese analysts that the elections have been organized in the interests of the international community as opposed to the interests of the Congolese people. The main vehicle through which the interests of the international community has been expressed is the CIAT or International Committee to Accompany the Transition.
The Facts:Our friends at FOTC said it all, and I do not have much to add here so I will abstain. I would however like to thank FOTC for their lobbying efforts in favor of my country, and my people. I'd be happy to answer any additional question people have, in the comments.
1. Presidential Candidates - 73 individuals registered for the presidential race, 32 of whom met the qualifications while 41 did not.
2. Legislative Candidates Registered - According to the CEI 8,650 candidates registered for the legislative races.
3. Women participate - Eight women submitted their candidacy for the office of president and 1,094 registered for the legislative races.
4. CIAT - The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) is shadowed by its international counterpart the CIAT (French acronym) or the International Committee to Accompany the Transition, which is headed by William Swing of the United States and made up of ambassadors from the following Countries: Angola, Belgium, China, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom, and USA as well as representatives from the African Union and the European Union.
5. Congolese continue to die at an alarming rate - while planning continues for the upcoming elections, 1,000 Congolese die per day.