Saturday, July 29, 2006

DRC: Countdown to elections: D-1

The moment of truth is almost here. The elections are tomorrow... tomorrow!! I want to be excited - and indeed I am, but I just finished reading a very interesting piece in Le Potentiel, that tempered my excitment a bit. The piece (in French), addresses, in a cool but sharp way, the reasons why these elections are not totally Congolese elections. The amount of pressure put on the Congolese people to accept certain irregularities that could have been avoided, simply give a slightly sour taste to the electoral process. It also makes the argument that although it is true that main opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi excluded himself, his participation could have been secured if there was true political will for an unslanted election. As it stands, without Tshisekedi, the elections are very... "weighted" in favor of President Kabila.

Oh well, we are not the first African country to have imperfect elections, and we are unlikely to be the last, so my utmost hope is that this will at the very least be the beginning of a process/habit of democracy, that will give people a sense of ownership in the country. So much hope has been placed in these elections, and many have unrealistic expectations from them. Many tend to think that they will be a miracle solution to all the country's problems, and that is obviously not true. It is just one step, and we just have to hope that it is a step in the right direction.

My overly cautious nature may get the better of me. I am happy that my people gets at the very least the chance to try "this democracy thing", as someone said on TV yesterday. People died during this last week of campaigning, and the leading candidates got to - at the very least they tried to - deliver their grand finales with great fanfare. It is now time for voting.

In brief news, a unmanned drone of the EUFOR-RDC crashed in Kinshasa, which is not giving people a great deal of trust in the disuasion force. And in Kasai, a truck carrying electoral material was set ablaze. So the tension is definitely rising. And security has tightened immensly in preparation of the polls. World leaders expressed their support for the polls, and everything seems to be as ready as they will ever be.

For all the French-speaking people, Radio Okapi will be airing 36 hours of live electoral coverage, with reporters in some of the most remote locations in the country.

The Salon wishes the Congolese people free and fair and transparent polls tomorrow, and may the best candidates win. May the blessings of God and our ancestors be the shield against any attempt at violence. And may the Congolese people be the victor, always.

Congo, kino liwa!

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