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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Election news: Calendar politics and the election law

The Congolese public has been waiting for weeks now for the election commission to publish their new calendar. The delays have fueled rumors about internal wrangling and quarrels. According to a high-ranking member of the opposition, the crux of the matter is whether elections can be held so that the president can be sworn in by December 6, 2011, five years exactly after Kabila took office in 2006. The current proposal made by election commissioner Daniel Mulunda Ngoy has the elections taking place on December 5, a date that has been rejected by the opposition as unconstitutional, as it would take weeks for the results to be counted.

The election commissioner is now asking to add several more weeks to the election calendar, and negotiations are ongoing, but even his initial proposal was optimistic. Insiders within the election commission suggest that they probably won't have the time and funding to make sure elections are held by early December, meaning that Mulunda Ngoy might set an early election date to satisfy the political opposition but then force through a delay until 2012 when it becomes clear that the date is unrealistic.

The commission has, however, apparently scrapped plans of holding separate legislative and presidential elections. That's a relief.

In the meantime, a new election law was rejected en masse by both opposition and majority in parliament yesterday. The MPs said that instead of submitting revisions to the old law the draft was a completely new law, with over a hundred new articles. But, while they rejected the law on procedural grounds, many are also not happy with its substance. The draft would have MPs elected on lists determined by their political parties in a winning list-takes all system. For example, in a district with 6 seats, if the UDPS list wins 51%, it will take all seats, even if some of their candidates were much less popular than individual candidates on other lists (if no party list gets the majority, they divvy up the seats proportionally).

This system is obviously unfavorable to small parties with no money that initially got elected in the past system that favored individuals, not lists. That's what produced a national assembly with over 70 different political parties, a nightmare for collective action.

Making matters worse, the new charter of Kabila's alliance, the Majorité Presidentielle (MP) gives the leadership of the MP the power to name the lists. For the incumbent parliamentarians, this spells disaster, as they do not trust the MP to treat them favorably.

For both of these reasons - the new MP charter and the list-system proposed - the electoral law is bound to be contentious.


Anonymous said...

Presumably, there is also some anxiety due to the fact that if the president is not installed by the 6th December, he is in breach of the constitution and the current president is no longer the legitimate one. If this arises, I would suggest the country is in for a much rougher ride and how Kabila reacts to this (if he allows it to get to that stage) will be a crucial point in an already volatile country. If the elections are delayed, we might start to see more constitutional amendments, in order to cover that period.

Anonymous said...

This is all very suprising putting in mind i heard the government (CENI) has been offered a solution / software by the european union in relaying and transmitting of the electoral results from the polling stations, but they dont seem the least interested at all.

I mean instead of we the congolese people waiting for upto to 20 days for the provisional results like in 2006 which in turn raises tensions all over the country. Why cant we take the easy way out. God help us !!

Anonymous said...

It seems to be an good idea - automatic results. I get the sense though that Mr Kabila's government prefers to have as little involvement as possible with the west - and the delay might work in their favour? Maybe I am not being very fair to Mr Kabila......

Anonymous said...

I'am of the same impression but i assumed with the new electoral body maybe they would have embraced the idea with open arms and also since the European union will be paying for the software.

I think its an idea the opposition parties would have agreed upon,putting in mind they have more to gain.

Jason Stearns said...

Interesting, I hadn't followed these developments - the opposition members I spoke with suggested that counting would take up to two weeks. Let me check with some others and see if they know more.

Anonymous said...

If i'm not wrong this is a matter that European Union has agreed to fund in principal together with solution providers. Its a matter of a committment from the government or CENI which is not forthcoming.

Anyway i'm certain with such a solution in place it would take not more than 48 hours to start relaying and releasing the provisional results.

Just my 2 cents

SunTura said...

Anonymous said...

Quand il s'agit de stratégies à mettre des bâtons dans les élections, l'opposition parle vite avec une seule voix. Je pense que ce serait une excellente occasion pour la CENI à légitimer une éventuelle victoire de Kabila.

Anonymous said...

Although the proposal submitted to the plenary on April 11 is very undemocratic as it would have excluded many potential candidates through a uniquely Congolese system of incredibly expensive rights to run for elections (100,000 US$ to run for Presidency, 5,000 to run for a seat in the National Assembly), let me correct a point: the electoral law of 2006 is a text of 245 articles while the one proposed on April 11 got only 241 articles.

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