Saturday, August 19, 2006

DRC: Elections: Update 11

Congo police patrol capital ahead of poll result - Yahoo! News: "KINSHASA (Reuters) - Convoys of heavily armed Congolese police patrolled the tense streets of the capital Kinshasa on Friday in a show of force two days ahead of the announcement of results from historic post-war elections.

Officials said the move was meant to reassure people but the force was jeered and threatened in several poor neighborhoods of a city hostile to President Joseph Kabila, who leads former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba with results still trickling in."
In Mobutu's time, you knew something big was going to happen, when the soldiers appeared on evry street. Traditon seems to have been respected yet again. I must say, this is a rather impressive display of organized police, even though it may mainly be for show.

The results of the elections will be published some time this Sunday, and tensions are running VERY high in Kinshasa, and other parts of the country. Between allegations of fraud, threats between candidates, and candidates' militants, threats against foreigners... as we say in French, "I am losing my Latin"! Every Congolese person, no matter what side they are on, and no matter what they say in public, are waiting for these results. Particularly the politicians, who are anxious to see if all the money they spent (or for many, borrowed to spend), actually yielded some results.

But surprise is very unlikely. President Kabila, and VP Bemba are defnitely the top 2 candidates, with roughly 70% of the votes counted, with three king-makers: "The patriarch" Antoine Gizenga, Harvard-educated Dr. Oscar Kashala, and - surprise! - Mobutu's son Francois Joseph Mobutu Nzanga (commonly refered to as Nzanga Mobutu). There are reports in Kinshasa that these people (ad all the other candidates) are already being atively sought for the looming two grand-coalitions, to contest the run-off elections.

Both coalitions seem to have to contend with the same reality: the need to overcome the apparent East/West divide in the country. Any future President will need to have the capacity to command respect, and have authority, in both sides, and that is a feat that so far, neither of the two front-runners have done very well. But both political movements are trying very hard, and it will be interesting to see how that works. And of course, there is always the possibility of Kabila winning in the first round... a true possibility, and one that I currently refuse to consider, because I fear it would mean Hell breaking loose on Congo. Hopefully I am wrong.

I am currently monitoring Kinshasa news from Radio Okapi and Top Congo FM. If anyone has a way to get CongoWeb TV from the US, let me know.

The results are published gradually here: CEI - Resultats.

Congo kino liwa!

1 comment:

Black River Eagle said...

DRC Elections Update Nr. 12:

Dear Ali,

Today is the BIG DAY. In fact, it is probably one of the most important days in your whole life. Today, we will get the first reasonably accurate information from the CEI (IEC) about how the people of the DR Congo voted in the polls of July 30, 2006.

It's already 16:54 here in Central Europe, and we haven't heard a peep out of the DRC yet. You hear anything over there in the States? Good Luck to you, Fleur d'Afrique, Jacqueline, Mama Emily, and all 54 million of your people. Good Luck.

Read the interview with the CEI's lead reporter at MONUC (Aug 18):
http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=12164

That last paragraph from that interview contains some very good advice. Await the results of the polls with calm and peace, 'cause your people have waited 41 long years for this day.

Next step: coalition building for an upset result in the October 29th runoff election.
Go Oscar (Kashala) Go!

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