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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A preliminary analysis of the legislative race

The electoral commission has published the list of candidates for the legislative elections, which are scheduled to be held on November 28th along with the presidential election. The legislative election is particularly important in the Congo, as the prime minister is named by the largest coalition in parliament, and then forms a cabinet to deal with the day-to-day business of governing. (That's the theory, at least - in this government, the presidency has wielded far greater power).

There are 19,000 candidates for the 500 seats in the national assembly. This means the legislative battle will be more competitive than in 2006, when there were considerably fewer candidates. In some districts, like Tshangu in Kinshasa, there are a hundred candidates for every seat.

I have done a very superficial analysis of five of the major parties contending elections: MLC, PPRD, UFC, UNC and UDPS. I admit that other parties are also extremely important - MSR and PALU, for example - but I will leave those for another day. If I did not miscount, here is a list of how many candidates each party registered for the 500 seats:

MLC (Bemba):          237
PPRD (Kabila):         545
UDPS (Tshisekedi):  377
UFC (Kengo):           334
UNC (Kamerhe):      450

I should emphasize that these numbers don't mean much - if a party is unpopular, then even by multiplying the number of candidates they won't get more seats. Nonetheless, there are several observations we can make.

First, the PPRD has the largest pool of candidates. This is probably a sign of their deep pockets, but they are also the only party of these five (other than the MLC, which has been weakened by infighting) that contended the last elections and has been present in the field since then, if only by virtue of the fact that the are in power. However, in some areas they have submitted over double the number of candidates as there seats in the district - this could be a sign of poor organization, as the party will be wasting resources by overloading candidates.

Secondly, it is very probable that we will see a change in the lead opposition party. Even if Kabila's coalition wins again, the MLC appears to have been deeply weakened by Bemba's absence and the splintering of the party over the past several years. They were only able to table one candidate for every two seats, an indication of a lack of funds and organization - one of their officials told me that they had even had trouble raising the funds necessary for registering their legislative candidates (I think something like $60,000).

The new opposition parties have been mobilizing very effectively. In particular, the UNC, which was launched less than a year ago, has been able to put forward candidates for over 85 percent of the seats in the national assembly, an impressive feat that also indicates that they have been able to raise significant funds. The UDPS is strong, but lacks candidates in many areas in the East. Again, none of this is an indication of how many seats they will win, and some of suggested that the UNC has expanded too fast, allowing to many opportunists into the party, while the UDPS has been more selective in its candidates.

Here is a breakdown by province:

Prov Orientale
N Kivu
S Kivu


Rich said...

Can someone in Newyork check if there is any truth in this information please?


Rich said...

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich,

I'm a doctoral candidate in Linguistics (Lingala and Bakongo) at Columbia and activist with Friends of the Congo and tried to find out today.

I first called the hotel and, per most hotel guidelines, they would not give out info about guests. The hotel associate was clearly under duress because she kept asking "are you with the press?"- a sign others are calling.

I then called a friend who is a publicist for actor Robert De Niro, who is a friend of Kagame's. The idea was to get her to call as a means of simply seeing if he was a guest on behest of De Niro. Well, she also got the cold shoulder treatment.

I don't think we will be able to find out definitively if he is or was a guest given this is a very exclusive hotel property. My friend informs me, however, that Kagame will be dining with De Niro so there may be a way to figure this out through this means.

I helped with the online organizing of the rally at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh recently and I can say that Kagame's security detail is very tight.

Anonymous said...

Why does PPRD has more candidates than seats available???

Kambale Musavuli said...

@Anonymous - can you identify yourself either by email to or here and share with us how you are an activist with Friends of the Congo, and how you were involved with the Carnegie Mellon University protest in Pittsburgh? I am the spokesperson of Friends of the Congo and am not aware of you or recall Friends of the Congo leading any effort to call hotels inquiring about Paul Kagame. Thank You!

Kambale Musavuli
Friends of the Congo

Anonymous said...

It is going to be next to impossible to confirm if Kagame is staying at the Mandarin.

I could see it if he was staying at some middle market hotel chain but high end Mandarin?

In order to know for sure someone either needs to stalk out the hotel from outside (bad idea, this area is home to the richest people on Earth and is heavily guarded) or know someone who works there.

Rich said...

Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa there is an alledged third plot to assassinate him!!!

Anonymous said...

It is really my hope that this blog continues to press forward on the Congolese and their future as opposed to the political intrigue of its neighboring countries and predatory elites in Kinshasa.

The Congolese have a wonderful opportunity to become agents of change in less than two months and if elections and mass protests elsewhere on the continent is any indication a surprise may be in store for all of us.

I realize the history(let alone the present) here can make one quite cynical about the prospects for real change. But let’s focus on what is ahead for the Congolese and not become embroiled in the past nor the intrigue that typifies its elites and the mandarins in Kigali.

I am very happy to see that CENCO is beginning its efforts to provide election observers and a campaign of civic education in the Congo.

And, as an American evangelical missionary going back some 20 years in this country, I am particularly grateful American evangelicals have stepped up to the plate to provide for this effort at this mission critical time.


Anonymous said...

Vital's UNC has played this one well.

They are competitive where they need to be and have doubled down in provinces where they have clear strength. This also suggests that the UNC are fairly well-funded given it has been able to field so many potential candidates.

This is important because Vital can foreseeable show that he has the machine and the money to be competitive- which could then use as leverage in conversations with the other opposition candidates.

The question now, ofcourse, is the message. Vital, like Kabila, is increasingly the subject of a "birther" smear which charges he is not Congolese but Rwandan. If he can't find a way to adequately address it and get to his message the money and machine will be worthless.

He is a brilliant tactician, however, so I have a feeling he won't succumb to this smear. It is my thinking that the winner here has got to earn the trust of the Congolese and inspire them if they are to beat Kabila. I find it odd then that Vital did not pick up on the blatant lie Kabila told in New York last week and then use this to call into question Kabila's integrity and thus burnish his own. Kabila is providing many openings that could be used to up the "trust factor" in this campaign with the right candidate leading the charge.

The opening of campaign season should be pretty interesting. We will see who among these guys is capable of winning the hearts and minds of the Congolese on the stump. And we will further see consolidation in the candidates to, likely, three: Kabila, Etienne, and Vital.

@Bryce- I completely agree with you.

Anonymous said...


To your point about the UNC “expanding to quickly”, I’d beg to differ. As other commenters pointed out Vital is a solid tactician. Therefore, one could can see the fielding of all these candidates not in the hope to get them all elected, but to force the PPRD to defend them and waste resources.

It would be like Democrats fielding alot of candidates in Congressional races next year in Florida- as you and every American knows mostly Republican state that, given Latino immigration, retirees from the North, and a increasingly unpopular Republican governor,is slowing shifting to Democrats. Democrats don’t expect to win all these races but, nonetheless, the Party has managed to find candidates in almost 90% of districts which forces Republicans to play hard so Dems can focus on the swing states.

This is another interpretation of UNC’s expansion. Katanga is clearly the swing province given UNC’s fielding of 64 candidates. Oriental Province is clearly the other given how many PPRD is fielding though here UNC hasn’t done so well

Anonymous said...

Jason said: First, the PPRD has the largest pool of candidates. This is probably a sign of their deep pockets.

There is another interpretation or twist to this PPRD number. Either the PPRD does not know what it is doing or the Electorale Commission is staffed with a bunch of incompetents.
UDPS is challenge PPRD list in court because of of non respect of the law.
Do, the court will be obliged to throw out PPRD list in some district like Tshangu and Lukunga were PPRD has respectively 15 candidates for 13 seats and 17 candidates for 15 seats.
The 2006 electorate law N° 06/006 DU 09 MARS 2006 PORTANT Election States that a party should be revoked if the the list contains a number of candidates superior to the list in contest.
see below excerpts of the law chap 22 alinea 2.
" Une liste présentée par un parti politique, un regroupement politique ou
une candidature présentée par un indépendant est déclarée irrecevable
lorsque :
1. elle reprend le nom d’une ou de plusieurs personnes inéligibles ;
2. elle porte un nombre de candidats supérieur au nombre maximum
fixé pour chaque circonscription ;
3. elle reprend le nom d’un candidat dans plus d’une circonscription électorale pour un même niveau"

Should the PPRD be barred in running because of non respect of the law?
Was this a mistake from the electoral commission or a PPRD blunder?

How the court will handle UDPS challenge to PPRD list eligibility?

Mwana kin

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