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

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011: Election year in the Congo

Elections will trump everything else in Congolese politics in 2011. Joseph Kabila will have to fight for his survival. He is vulnerable in much of the country, even in his Kivutian heartland. The fight will be all the more difficult if his main challengers - Tshisekedi, Bemba (or whoever he endorses) and Kamerhe - are able to forge an alliance, as they appear to be trying to do.

Two things happened in the first days of 2011 that will have an impact on this dynamic. First and foremost, the parliament has begin to discuss a possible change to the electoral code that would get rid of the a presidential run-off election. This means that whoever wins a plurality of the vote in the first round would win, meaning that Kabila would not have to face a Tshisekedi-Bemba-Kamerhe alliance, but would merely have to get more votes than each of them alone. He could possibly - depending on the wording of the law - win with 30% of the vote, for example.

The second development has been the promotion of 14,280 officers and NCOs in the Congolese army - a huge number of promotions for an army of around 160,000 soldiers. Pundits in Kinshasa are linking this to the elections, of course, suggesting that the president wants to maintain the loyalty of his officer corps at this critical juncture.

In particular, analysts point to the integration of CNDP troops in the Kivus - CNDP officers have long grumbled about the fact that their ranks (there had been serious rank inflation under the CNDP regime) had not been confirmed, as they had demanded during the peace negotiations. According to one high-ranking Congolese army source, 8 CNDP officers have been promoted/confirmed to be full colonels, including Innocent Gahizi, Innocent Kabundi, Claude Mucho, Sultani Makenga, Faustin Muhindo and Baudouin Ngaruye. This is, however, fewer than the 18 that had been agreed upon during negotiations with Kinshasa high command six months ago.

Why is this important? The CNDP has wide-ranging influence in the Kivus due to their deployment for Kimia II and Amani Leo operations, and they can stir up trouble, intimidate political parties and secure economic interests. In short, they are a force to be reckoned with. Already, there were rumors that Vital Kamerhe benefited from CNDP protection during a visit to Goma a few weeks ago (they say that they are being smeared by Kabila's security services).  


Rich said...

Hey Jason,

Vital Kamerhe will have a hard task to convince some observers. For people like me, we see in Kamerhe what Tshisekedi was for Mobutu. In other words, many people in Congo are now of the opinion that J Kabila wanted to form his own political class where both the majority and the ‘supposed’ opposition are working to maintain him on power.

Let’s remember why Kamerhe left the AMP in the first place! It was because he did not agree with the deployment of Rwandan troops for operation Umoja Wetu in 2009. This makes me wonder how on earth the same CNDP, which is a pro-Rwandan movement, can now be providing security to V Kamerhe!!!

J Kabila is in a very bad position. Many observers doubt if he can ‘genuinely’ beat Tshisekedi even in the first round. Not only has Tshisekedi got a strong base constituted of two provinces (both Kasaïs) he is also still very popular in Kinshasa and his ethnic group is one of the most popular in Congo. I will try to gather some statistics to demonstrate that; but one fact is, the Baluba (Tshisekedi’s ethnic group) are polygamous and can be very nomadic both inside and outside Congo. For this reason, I think there are far too many Balubas in DRC than we think. And they will be voting according to their ethnicity rather than anything else.

I personally struggle to see how J Kabila can win in 2011! The 2006 context is very different from 2011. In 2006, the situation was above all military than anything else and it happened that J Kabila was the most armed person in the DRC hence it makes sense he won. In 2011 the context is no longer as military as in 2006; the context is rather political, economic and social (back to the basics) with some slight differentials in their extent given the area of the country. On top of being popular all around Congo, this will also need a fair deal of intellectual awareness as well as a great communication skill to sell your project to more than 40% of the national electorate.

In principle, after being in charge for 10 years, J Kabila should simply step aside (even à la Vladimir Putin  Dmitry Medvedev) and let others bring in some breath of fresh expertise and aspiration! Anyway, let’s WAIT AND SEE!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jason. As per usual.

Recently, a minister in Kabila's government suggested simply having ONE round in the approaching elections- citing costs and saving the country from division. The MLC and others ofcourse cried fowl.

But if this was an instant-runoff election (everyone ranks by preference their preferred candidate) this could actually be a good thing since costs are indeed an issue. Sure, the ballot changes and voter education would be costly but I don't believe so in the aggregate.

And ofcourse, most (not all but most) studies show instant run-off elections are a means to reduce various divides in a society.

What do you think?

Feel free to respond to my work email address.


ps. I am a campaign director for Political Action, which I assume you have heard of. (

Anonymous said...

Two additional things:

1. Sorry, you actually mentioned the round changes in your post so my apologies for repeating them in mine.

2. My basic point here is that the opposition could use such a change (which I understand would require a constitutional change) as long as they asked for a voting change (instant run off) and perhaps other constitutional changes.

In my (very amateurish) analysis of the opposition, they really don't seem to value this role enough. In our own land, Republicans have been able to use the constant "NO" refrain (primarily through procedural abuses like the filibuster) to frustrate and block legislation. The goal here is to frustrate American progressives (and the rest of the electorate) to the point that they will stop supporting Obama to destroy his chances in 2012. And based on my numbers (prior to November's elections ofcourse) the composition of all the opposition party's in the Congo Parliament and in Republicans in Congress was the same.

Yet it is pretty clear Congo's opposition hasn't used parliamentary tactics to their advantage (though, from appearances, they are using the media fairly well).

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts about why this is the case. (though, to be clear, I do support your three "thrusts" to Congo's broader problems which clearly leads to a weakened opposition as one of many byproducts).

3. Finally, in a nation where ethnicity tends to hold more sway then political parties (often the situation where the "state" doesn't really exist) or those parties are based on ethnicity (or some other parochial concern) IRV nearly always works to reduce these tensions. More critically perhaps, nothing would make me happier if the Congolese people (or hell, even my own) had MORE CHOICES and could RANK those choices on a ballot. It would be a true game changer for Congo's polity and, I would argue, begin to help unravel the challenges that arise in the three "thrusts" you elaborated in your talk a few months back.

Again, would love your thoughts on all this.

Campaign Director

Anonymous said...

HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA can not win a fair and democratic election in congo. Congolese people never adopted this man as one of them( he can not even pronounce CONGOLAIS , He says CONGORAIS like most rwandan). He is become increasingly unpopular all over the country. He only hope is his rwandan brothers of CNDP but it is too late for him. many thing has changed since 2006.
JASON you are a true CNDP expert not a congo one.

Richard Muamba said...

To Rich, my name is Rich, shortened from Richard. Your comment as to why J Kanambe will never beat tshisekedi based on ethnical belonging is no founded. There is no muluba who will vote Tshiseki because he is muluba. Baluba in general are jelous people, and they don't like their brother's success. it's a fact, it's in their gene. I'm muluba and when Tshisekedi arrived in Kinshasa we were over 40 guys in a room closing a funeral. 70% of people were baluba, 20 were baswahili and 10% bakongo. I was suprised that I was the only one among baluba who enjoys in seeing Tshisekedi getting back to real business and the rest are real opponents of him. While some baswahili are supportive of Tshitshi. Don't foul yourself to think baluba are tribalists. One other exemple: I was student at Lubumbashi before lititi mboka invasion of the campus. Mualaba Kasanda was my professor in economics. We went to bribe him to make us go to the next level. he turned down the offer and exposed us in front of the class. While other professors were taking bribes based on whehter you are of his ethnic. The list is long: the Betchika, Kibassa, Mende who were Tshiseki proteges were not baluba and his chief of staff when he was nominated prime minister was not muluba.

Anonymous said...

I think Christopher has a good point.

But perhaps the question is how do both sides get what they want but still moves the Congo forward?

From my understanding, in order for this change to be made, 60% of both parts of the Assembly have to vote “yea”.

But something you didn’t mention, Jason, is that Kabila only has 50% support in the upper house- the Senate.

So, for all intents and purposes, he faces a “filibuster” in the upper house and the Opposition have the upper hand.

Thus, to get back to my original question, perhaps this deal should be struck:

- the opposition allows this change
- but the majority/Kabila accepts reforms around what Christopher is suggesting

How would this satisfy both factions AND help the people of the Congo?

Kabila is toast in November. He may win a first round, but his majority will totally and completely disappear. There is no way he has a majority in the Assembly after these elections- even with the proposed changes. Thus, he gets what he wants and the opposition potentially becomes the majority and they get more veto power of the presidency. A more empowered National Assembly- think England here- is in the best interest of the Congo’s people who have never had a body of representatives that holds sway over an executive (though, in their pre-colonial kingdoms, they did have such institutions to check the power of the King/Chief).

You can’t tell me that a divided government- Kabila on one end (with his powers clipped) and say the Speaker of the Assembly of a different (but in the majority) party would not be good for the Congo. The rot and corruption and the conflict in the East are, as you well know, tied to a state that doesn’t function. Well, a state begins to function when there are, as you put it, “competing power centers”. Indeed, it can’t function without this!

How do we get to such a “grand bargain”?

The opposition in the Senate must hold up and hold firm. Everything must stop- particularly passing the budget (ie, Kabila cannot pay and bribe people off). Ensure a quorum isn’t held. Engage in protests nationwide at key places- embassies , corporate mining hq’s, etc. Basically, wear down the majority with stalling and street tactics. There needs to also be more pressure from the Africa/Congo constituency here as well to tacitly support the opposition. Enough, ONE, Avaaz, hell even MoveOn should demonstrate daily at the IMF, the Chinese embassy, and World Bank so as to shame them into compliance.

Then, enter into negotiations and, in exchange for this amendment, ask for others that strengthens Parliament and, perhaps, demands that the “security” forces declare allegiance to the credentialed winner of the Presidential elections. This will avoid a military taking sides (sure, probably not, but it is worth a try).

A bargain is then set and everyone gets what they want.

It would be interesting to get your thoughts on all this, Jason.

And to Richard.....

Good man, the ethnic and regional rivalry has got to stop if Congo is to move forward. What sense does it make for everyone in different ethnic groups to fight over a cake that is rotting? You will all get sick!! Start baking more cakes!!


ps- While Christopher is, given his employer, a liberal I am not. I am a Republican strategist but also a evangelical (Southern Baptist). And, as you know, American evangelicals have considerable power in Central Africa and in DC. I have also been to Congo several times over the last 4 years.

Rich said...

Hey Richard,

You said, “Baluba in general are jelous people, and they don't like their brother's success. it's a fact, it's in their gene.”

I say, Can you share some references in support of your assertion so that we can all learn? I doubt if your assertion is based on something more than your own perception.

You said, “I'm muluba and when Tshisekedi arrived in Kinshasa we were over 40 guys in a room closing a funeral. 70% of people were baluba, 20 were baswahili and 10% bakongo. I was suprised that I was the only one among baluba who enjoys in seeing Tshisekedi getting back to real business and the rest are real opponents of him…”

I say, nice stats; however, what makes you think that your observation constitutes an empirical experiment that can be replicated and produce identical results in Kabeya Kamwanga, or in Nganda Jika?

You said, “Don't foul yourself to think baluba are tribalists.”

I say, I never said that! Taking from the distribution of votes obtained by each of the top three candidates in 2006, I deduced that people in Congo (not only Balubas) are more likely to vote according to their ethnicity than anything else. Don’t take me wrong, I will never consider this way of voting as tribalism.

Why do I say this? Well let’s start from the East Vs West divide between J P Bemba and J Kabila! What about Gizenga getting 96.9% in Kahemba and 98% in Idiofa whilst J Kabila and JP Bemba had only managed 1.4% Kahemba; 0.4% Idiofa (for Kabila) and 0.2% Kahemba; 0.1% Idiofa (for Bemba). The same Gizenga went on to do 0.2% for the whole province of Maniema, J P Bemba 0.4% for the same Maniema whilst J Kabila did 89.8%? Trust me, there is more… These stats can be accessed freely on numerous websites here on the internet.

From all the explanatory variables you can think of, you tell me, what else can explain better or predict these variations in votes, outside ethno-linguistic factors?

In conclusion, I can refrain myself from asserting that in 2011 Congolese will vote according to their ethnicity. However, taking from the 2006 results where it can be seen that there was a highly significant correlational evidence that ethnicity predicted a big chunk of variations in the probability of voting for x or y. I can now deduce that, everything remaining the same, there is a strong likelihood that this can reoccur in 2011. This is true especially when we consider the top four or three candidates with most of the votes.

I will be more than happy to discover and learn from your stats or references demonstrating that in Congo ethno-linguistic factors do not explain variations in the probability of voting for x or y (especially the top three candidates).

Anonymous said...

I am writing to say I saw your blog just today for the first time.

It’s quite thought provoking and I will sure return to it regularly. Please keep up the good work.

I am looking to get in contact with MR.MEDARD AUTSAI ASANGE, THE Governor of Oriental province.

I would be very grateful if you can send me his email, official or private phone number .I have searched the net but failed.

Thank you and beat regards.

Y. Saguy


Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, There is one factor that no one is considering as the main if not prominent factor in this race.There is as the Americans would say "a dark horse" that is about to enter the race.His name is Ben Kalala,a Congolese activist both in the US and the DOC, who is extremely active building health clinics, orphanages for children, putting roofs on schools,and providing jobs to include transportation for the Congolese people. He has solid financial backing in the US and will bring a fresh, new, democratic strategy to the Presidency of the Republic of the Congo.His approach and new ideas for the people includes, employment, prosperity, security,and a honest,integrity focus on a new and honest leadership in the Presidency and the senate. Ben Kalala is the new face of the DOC with the blessings of the US State Department and the US White House both of which fully support him. Kabila and his predesessors are on their way out. The west and africa's allies are not happy with his positions or actions in office. Ben Kalala is the answer to making Africa a"world power". He is smart enough,savvy enough andhehas the inflence to turn around the Congo back to the people.

Financial Advisor
Ben Kalala Presidential Campaign

Anonymous said...

hi; i think this is the time for congo to move on and get himself an opportinuty to do is best for better life not only for drc even for africa.
my observationin africa most of the leader who did manage to attend high level of education they did well for their country eg:SENGOR,ABDOUDOU DIOUF,O.BOINE,P.LISUBA,MBEKI,... they are many but all those they did not manage to go for school they only things they like to stick in power even they are not doing well.
they do not like to be criticise or investigate about how the manage the too much for africa i think time is now to stop those people to make africa to look miserable KABILA must leave and give opportinuty to other to lead congo in green place.
how come for a such long period of 10 year he did only one think make this big country of africa down and stupid as is mind.
no plan for social development,no health facility,no good education plane,nothing only stupidity of music and womanising my poor country.

Anonymous said...

la corruption,le viole,le vagabondage,la stupidite et l ignorance sans oublier l'imbecilite tel a ete le plan du gouvernement kabiliste.
si reellement vous aimez le changement cet homme wui n'a pas de cerveau doit partir si non nous allons connaitre la plus grande histoire de l idiotie au pouvoir dans le monde.
kabila et ses collaborateur sont de destructeur,voleur,violeur et surtout sorcier qui ne souhait qu'une chose vole et s'enrichir au detrument de pauvre congolais.
le parlement qui a fait que cet idoit de kabila soit eligible doit etre traduit en justice un jour pour la hate trahison.
premierement il n avait pas l'age et le niveau d'etude recommande par la constitution congolaise l'idiot de Kamere et Olivier Kamitatu bande de voleur on manipule l'assemble pour faire de cet idiot eligible dans un pay ou il y a de grand cerveau malheureusement qui ne travaille que pour cet idiot de Kabila.
il n'est pas congolais et il doit quitter si non nous allons finir par prendre les arms.

Unknown said...

Hello! I was just surfing the internet and I got into this site!
I quickly saw what I had been searching for!
I definitely like your site! Pages that contain such a great media are much more easier to read.
I will recommend you to keep it up. It was my pleasure to see your article.
Navigate to my webpage and download totally free top eleven football manager hack.
Take care. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello! I had been surfing the web when I got into this domain. And I've just got the stuff I had been looking for! I definitely like this website. Webpages with such a great text are much more better. I could suggest you to keep writing such a high quality posts! It was my pleasure to check your review. Visit my webpage and get definitely freeware
free riot points and
free riot points..
See ya. :D

Post a Comment