Okay this is what I've *heard*
Edit: And the MP3 for this post is: Double vie by Josky Kiambukuta featuring Madilu System. This is some nice Congolese Rumba, it's new and one of my favourites these days. Enjoy ;)
Kabila is leading the polls particularly in the eastern and some southern parts of Congo. Ituri, Kivu, Katanga (no surprises). During one of the many conversations I've had with my parents this weekend, they explained that Kabila may have had a better strategy. While most of the other candidates focused on Kinshasa and the western part of the country, Kabila campaigned heavily on the eastern part which is more populated than the rest of the country. I didn't know that. But anyway he might have an advantage there ....
I just heard that Jean-Pierre Bemba claims that his observers said he was leading the polls lol. Here's an article. Well I *heard* that Bemba was leading in the western part and that he'd win in Kinshasa (!)
Dr. Kashala is doing better than expected. I must say he made a remarkable entrance. Hired foreign body guards, planes full of imported election material, etc. The authorities gave him trouble for all these things. Consequently he's getting many sympathy (or protest) votes. He's doing particularly well in Kasai (stronghold of the UDPS). I also *heard* that UDPS gave undercover instructions to vote for him. LOL. These people can't be serious.
The UDPS officially lost. They're about to become irrelevant and this time it might be for good. I don't even understand what they were thinking. I think nothing was going to stop these elections from happening. The UDPS should have realised that a long time ago. They should have entered the race and tried to be a big opposition party at parliament. I think their input would have been more relevant there. That is how democracy works. They seriously need to get over themselves imho. They lost during the transition, and now they aren't participating in this elections. I think nobody is scared of them anymore. There was a time when everyone of scared of the UDPS because they had the power to create serious chaos. I'm kind of mad at them. All this noise for the nothing...At the end of the day everything went well except in Kasai where some incidents occured. A voting station was burned and several people injured. Sadly, very predictable and like others I see the hands of the UDPS in this...consequently the voting stations were opened there yesterday as well to allow people to continue voting.
Now we all have concerns about poosible irregularities. It looks like these elections will be transparent. The UN has increased its numbers. Over five thousand international observers are in the country and of course the press is everywhere. The vote counts are published in real time at polling station. Each presidential candidate has their own observers (well those who can afford so...). Independant observers are there as well to guarantee some transparency. Seriously, I'm impressed. But I still don't understand all those attempts to intimidate the press. I am really really glad no major trouble is going on.
As for the other candidates, well ... I'm shocked that Pay-pay even entered the race. Same goes for ex-rebel leaders and other questionable people. Isn't it sad when ex-Mobutists go on TV claiming that people have massively urged them to come back to politics because they are the only hope? I'm not only talking about the presidential candidates here either. I really doubt that people have forgotten what the old guard did. But let's be honest: Kabila (the father)'s regime wasn't impressive, he clearly surrounded himself with um we'll say questionable people. His son is doing better but there's some skepticism left. So you see, some people actually think the old guard can't do worse. This is a case of choosing the lesser-evil. But you know how it is: they prefer thinking that they are new messiahs. They really don't get it. Oh yeah interesting how they avoid questions like "Do you think the people you've persecuted in the past will vote for you" ... by answering with long and incomprehensible proverbs. Terrible. These people have no conscience and we the Congolese are too lenient with them perhaps.
Oh yeah some people are candidates despite themselves. Two years ago the new trend was to create your own party. Activists can't understand why their party exists if their leaders can't run for presidency or parliament... so here they are knowing well that they have no hope. In fact a number of them are clearly telling their supporters to vote for "bigger" candidates. On top of that if you don't have enough resources to give out money and free t-shirts to your supporters it's pointless. The whole thing is comedy I tell you .... But anyway if you're interested you can have a look at the very long list of political parties here and here.
You guys know that the campaign was meant to be over on friday. Well the campaign continued inside voting booths. Activists were seen singing inside polling stations and *discreetly* offering $10 and a free t-shirt if you voted for their candidate. I can't say one particular party is doing this. Everyone is doing this. Also don't be fooled by what you see on TV. All these folks you saw in stadiums aren't true supporters. Everyone flocks to the one who offers the most money and the most t-shirts. That incident at Bemba's rallie? His own supporters saw people wearing Kabila (who was having an event at the other stadium at the same time) t-shirts entering the stadium. These people were not looking for trouble it seems...they just wanted more money and more t-shirts. :-/ *sigh* Well that's what I heard. I also *heard* Kabila and dr. Kashala were among the most generous too ....
um what else? there are too many candidates!!! The local and parliamentary elections are a mess.
I know of 6 people in my family & close family entourage who are candidates in the general election. And there's probably more I don't know of yet. I don't know... sometimes I wonder if this is like a game. Some candidates want to represent locations they haven't been to in years. I'm not even sure they've actually gone there to campaign. I think they're counting on family notoriety? I don't know if I should laugh or cry. I'll be positive today and call that the democratization of democracy. There are locations which have over 500 candidates for only 20 seats. WTF??! The clever ones told their supporters which page and which number to look for. (voting sheets are several pages long). I think a major complaint is that some people might have voted randomly because they couldn't find their local candidates and couldn't stay in the booth forever.
Ok I this is all I've *heard* (I spent the whole sunday on phone lol). To answer your question no I'm not there. It wasn't safe to go until after the voting. Now that it's calmer we're getting ready. I'll try and blog from there.