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

Friday, May 13, 2011

Troubles with the registration of voters

I will be updating this post to include articles on electoral troubles as they come in from different sources (probably mostly Okapi):

I've compiled a few articles that speak of various troubles the voter registration process has run in to.

In general the problems have included:
  • frequent breakdown of the election kits (computers, printing machines, generators)
  • late arrival of registration material in registration centers
  • in general, many delays and slowness in the registration process
  • poor access to communication by election centers and officials, as well as lack of awareness by local population

    Perhaps the worst problem has been the inaccessibility of the registration centers due to the drastic reduction in their numbers in comparison with the last registration in 2005 - in North Kivu, for example, there are only a forth as many centers as six years ago.

    Some other stories:
    • (May 16) Dozens of centers in Kasai Oriental cannot transit their results to the electoral commission due to communication problems - in one territory, only 40 out of 200 centers have transmitted their results.
    • Registration has been suspended in Lodja territory (Kasai Oriental) since April 14, when the territorial administrator threatened all electoral officials not from the territory with expulsion. Ten days later, the governor of the province suspended the administrator and called for registration to continue.
    • Two weeks into the registration process in Kasai Oriental, centers in Sankuru territory were still not working. Apparently the fuel truck got stuck on the bad road.
    • Voter registration has been slow in Bambesa territory (Province Oriental) - out of 28,000 voters in the town of Dingila, only 2,000 had been registered almost a month into registration. According to some, this feeble turnout is due to lack of awareness-raising, others say it police harassment, while local officials say it's harvest season and people will show up soon.
    • Registration has stopped since May 3rd in Kabeya-Kamwanga (Kasai Oriental), the hometown of Etienne Tshisekedi. According to the election commission, there has been a problem of fuel for generators and other materials. (This was as of May 6th)
    • According to the UDPS in Haut-Lomami district (Katanga), a large number of underage people have registered to vote in this area, which was very favorable to Kabila in 2006. The election commission said they had not received any official complaint yet.
    • Two registration centers in Kasai Oriental had been closed on May 11th due to local conflicts over land.
    • In Wamba territory (Province Orientale), almost fifty out of 170 registration centers had not opened at the end of April, a full month into the registration process. The problem, according to the election commission, was the lack of officials to staff the centers - they were held up in Kisangani due to lack of funds for their transport.
    • In Kisangani (Province Orientale), the election commission complained that political parties were not observing voter registration. In a visit of 7 centers, the local head of the election commission had only seen a handful of observers from political parties.
    • In Equateur, registration has come to a halt since May 1st in 3 whole territories due to the theft of funds to pay the local staff. 
    • The UDPS party has also complained about the alleged sale of registration "jetons" (the slips you need to be registered) in Mbandaka (Equateur province).
    Nonetheless, the election commission has succeeded in reaching their registration goal in Kasai Oriental (1 million) and getting over 728,000 registered in Ituri.

    For an interesting debate on the registration process, here is Radio Okapi's Dialogue entre Congolais from May 10th, featuring leading Congolese civil society activists.


    Monique B. said...

    How does this compare to the state of voter registration six months before the 2006 election?

    Jason Stearns said...

    Not clear. Seems that there have been more problems this time around, but we need to get statistics about how many have registered compared with last time around. That will give us a better idea.

    Rich said...

    Well said Jason, up to date stats are needed to generate better estimates of registration rates between the two elections. However, I will not be surprised if this time round the rate is lower compared to 2006. 2006 was unique due to the fact that it was the first free elections after around 40 years and the electorate ID card played as an incentive (a euphemism of 'citizenship/Congolese nationality/native born Congolese etc...’ in a country so desperate to consolidate its sense of national identity). In 2006 many people registered (25 and a half Million registered voters in total) but not all did show up at the polling station as some got the electoral ID first then followed instructions to boycott the elections as asked but some parties.
    Affaire a suivre...

    Monique B. said...

    Rev. Mulunda-Nyanga rattled off a list of stats at CSIS this afternoon:

    - CENI's goal is to register 12 million (more? total?) by mid-July.

    - In Kinshasa, CENI's goal is to register 3.5 million voters (registration has not yet begun there.)
    - CENI has reached its goal to register 1.4 million in Bas-Congo.
    - Goal of 3.5 mil in Bandundu (at 1.6 mil now)
    - Goal of 3.5 mil in Equateur (at 1.7 now)
    - Goal of 3.9 mil in Orientale (at 1.17 now)
    - Goal of 2.9 mil in N Kivu (at 1.3 now with 0 registrations in Walikale due to security concerns and lack of infrastructure)
    - Goal of 2 mil in S Kivu (at 968,000 now)
    - Goal of 759,000 in Maniema (at 874,000 now)
    - Goal of 4.2 mil in Katanga (at 3.2 mil now with registration open until June 9)
    - I didn't catch the figures for the Kasai provinces.

    Jason Stearns said...

    Thanks, Monique - I'll put this up on the blog. I think Okapi announced the Kasai Oriental figures.

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