Saturday, August 12, 2006

DRC: Elections: Update 9

The recent elections in my beloved Congo may indeed be a Godsend, but not the way that one would normally think. I do not think that it will bring a monumentous change in the country, no. But the one good thing that came from this, is that international media - at the very least online - have really kept their eyes on the ball so far, and they have been covering the elections story, and finally (and it was about time!) Congo-related stories, including positive ones, and those related to the not-so-post-war situation.

A good example of this, is the coverage of the country by the BBC recently. Every story of importance in the Congo has found its way on the BBC website in one way or another, thanks mainly to BBC correspondent Arnaud Zajtman (who I am told is also a really nice guy). And it is from the BBC that the MONUC website took the following article (I also read/heard most on Radio Okapi): DR Congo poll officials arrested ::: 11/08/2006: "Six election officials have been arrested for allegedly trying to rig vote counting after recent elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They are reported to have been caught 'red handed' trying to falsify voting documents in the capital, Kinshasa, and were taken to court on Thursday.

Meanwhile 15 minor presidential candidates have complained of 'massive irregularities' in the vote count.

The election on 30 July was DR Congo's first democratic poll in 40 years

The chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Apollinaire Malu Malu, told AFP news agency an investigation had been launched to 'clarify the situation'.

The statement by 15 presidential candidates alleged 'numerous acts of fraud' in the election process including tampering with polling documents and bribing voters.

It accused international bodies overseeing the elections of a 'complicit silence' in the alleged irregularities."
Now time for me to vent for half a second: I am sick and tired of people coming about now, and being all outraged that the elections were not picture-perfect. What did they expect? I mean don't get me wrong, if there was rigging, by all means, people SHOULD denounce it. But that said, the allegations need to be based on concrete tangible proof, not on specualtions made by politicians who would have lost in any configuration of results, in a ploy to remain relevant. If Tshisekedi participated in these elections, and his witnesses in the regions denounced things, I would give them much more credit; he has a party with national standing, and is pretty popular (arguably, much more popular than anybody else) despite some very misguided decisions. But the bunch of "has-beens" that have been polluting the congolese mailing lists and the airwaves, with allegations that are pure products of their sand-fogged imaginations. I mean the war-torn Congo is not France, Australia or South Africa. There is a reason why things have cost so much. Give people a break!!!

The above notwithstanding, the Electoral Commission s not above reproach either. Although, like many, I praise the work of the electoral officials all over the country, the leadership of the Electoral commission has often been much less than forthcoming with information, and to some degree, very arrogant towards the population, and that is simply unnacceptable. It took pressures from the South African ambassador, for them to even consider publishing partial results. The people may be impatient, and it is necessary to remind them that things take time; however it is also important that they are only claiming what is their right, what is rightfully theirs: results of THEIR vote. So there is no need to go on ridiculing them on the radio and on TV, for actively seeking to find out something they are entitled to know. The commission works for the people, and it is about time they remember that. I am done venting.

The Electoral did finally decide to publish partial results. These can be found on their website here[fr], and are updated regularly (rough every other day), as every center finishes the results compilation. Check them out.

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