Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anger over elections in Kinshasa

A couple of days ago, the Congolese electoral authority announced the election calendar for the presidential, legislative and local elections. Congolese civil society and opposition are up in arms, but first let me outline the calendar:
  • Sept 2010 - May 2011: Revision of the electoral roll, resulting in a new list of voters and a new distribution of seats in parliaments
  • May 2011 - Nov 2011: Preparation for elections
  • 27 Nov 2011 - First round presidential elections and national legislative elections
  • 30 Dec 2011 - Publication of results
  • 26 Feb 2012 - Second round presidential elections and provincial assembly elections
  • 24 Mar 2012 - Publication of results
  • 12/13 June 2012 - Election of senators and governors by provincial assemblies
  • 31 Jan 2013 - Election of municipal, sector and chefferie councillors
  • 19 May 2013 - Election of Chefs of sectors, bourgomestres and urban councillors
  • 8 August 2013 - Election of mayors and deputy mayors
So here are the controversies:

First, the are various obvious violations of the 2005 constitution. The presidential elections have to "be called" 90 days before the end of his mandate. While there may be some ambiguity about what "etre convoqué" means, most seem to believe that elections have to take place at the latest on September 6th, 2011 - not November 27th, as the calendar says. Even if there is a winner in the first round, he won't be inaugurated until January 12, 2012, extending Joseph Kabila's current mandate by a month. If there is a run-off election, the president will have to wait until April 4th, 2012 to take power.

Another problem is the further delay of local elections - these were initially supposed to take place in 2005, if I remember correctly, and were then pushed back to 2008, then to 2010 and now they are supposed to take place in 2013.

Thirdly, a new electoral commission (CENI) was created on June 28th this year to replace the old one (CEI). Its seven members will be named by the national assembly, which does not come back from recess until September. So with what right does the old CEI announce the electoral calendar? They are only supposed to be dealing with temporary management issues until the CENI takes over.

Lastly, as mentioned here before, a lot of people are asking questions about the revision of the electoral roll. Since there has not been a census in the country since the 1980s, it is on the basis of this roll that the distribution of legislative seats and polling stations is made. As some did not register the last time around - especially in the Kasais and Kinshasa, where the opposition called for a boycott (although most ignored the call) - this is important. But now the minister of interior is saying that they will ask everybody to re-register. Will this cause beef in the Kivus, where the electoral card is the only proof of citizenship many have?

For those interested, here are some of the relevant articles in Kinshasa's newspapers: Le Potentiel here and here, Congo Independent here.

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