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, November 28, 2011

Elections update: 10pm (Bukavu)

Voting has wrapped up in many places in the eastern Congo, but continues in some areas and in many places in the West.

Some more information, with the caveat that I have not been able to verify all incidents, so they should be taken a grain of salt.
  • Kinshasa, which has been mostly calm today, saw some problems this evening as Tshisekedi prepared to vote. He was tailed by a crowd of supporters as the police blocked his path several times in Limete as he tried to get to a polling station. According to AFP photographers, police blocked him access to a station later. Apparently he finally voted and returned home;
  • Also in Kinshasa, UDPS supporters clashed with police in Bandal (at the school Joyeux Lutins) after they claimed they weren't able to vote;
  • Across the country, thousands of people couldn't find their names on the voters' lists - the election commission said they could vote anywhere in the electoral district where they registered, but many don't seem to know this and are protesting. This is the situation, for example, in Matete and Kingabwa in Kinshasa;
  • More allegations have surfaced of pre-marked ballots in favor of a presidential candidate, including in Songololo (Bas-Congo) and Idiofa (Bandundu);
  • In North Kivu, an angry crowd destroyed a voting station at Kasindi-Lubiliha, accusing Gen Kakolele (former rebel commander, now close to Kabila) of fraud. Five people have allegedly been arrested;
  • In Mwenga (South Kivu) six polling stations were not able to open on the Itombwe plateau due to Banyamulenge soldiers' interference;
  • The president of the voting station in Kalima (Maniema) was arrested due to fraud, as he was discovered with ballots in his private possession on the evening before the vote;
  • Around 100 voting stations were not able to open in Kasai Occidential, including some 43 that were burned down;
  • In South Kivu, fighting broke out between different ethnic communities in Kalehe as Hutu Kabila supporters clashes with Kamerhe supporters from Shi and Havu communities (not clear when this took place), leaving at least seven people injured;
I just heard that the election commission has now extended voting for one more day.


Anonymous said...

Thanks again Mr Stearns for your reporting,after talking to people in your area
can you have a general idea of which way the vote went.

Anand said...

Thanks SO much for the up to the minute reporting. It is invaluable in understanding what is happening on the ground.

Rich said...


D Djeli said...

just posted this link to Kamerhe speaking about election problems but it went AWOL...

Thanks Rich and Jason too...

Anand said...

@D Djeli - I think the shot of the woman with Kamerhe (his wife maybe?) struggling to stuff the oversized ballot into the ballot box is pretty representative of the elections as a whole: happening, but with much difficulty.

D Djeli said...

Anand now you see the size of the things... someone in Goma pointed out that the ballot boxes are poubelles.... rubbish bins!

Anonymous said...

I had the same reaction, Anand.


Anonymous said...

One thing that seems clear, atleast to me, in the various news reports, tweets, etc is the absolute level of vigilance the Congolese are displaying in their desire to vote.

Rain, waiting for hours for polls to end, violence, etc...nothing seems to be stopping them from getting on with their vote.

Ofcourse, their is nothing scientific about this opinion but, from what's being reported, the Congolese went to the polls pretty determined to vote no matter what.

Indeed, its this vigilance and excitement that heartens....and scares me.



Anonymous said...

@jason, @ rich, @ anand ...been following ur blog and comments for the last six months since i got involved in congo...well the latest from rutshuru territory is that polling was by far PEACEFUL... and the capitals are deliberate bcoz thats not what a lot of people expected.the delivery of ballot papers was completed in time places mere 5 hours before polling !!! to CENI polling staff ( who incidentally are mostly teachers), PNC and their diligent UN military escorts. there was the issue of unlisted voters but with CENI allowing voters to vote at any centre, most people were able to exercise their vote. In Ruthuru territory considerable synergy was witnessed between the CENI,territory administration, FARDC and MONUSCO which i think reflected in the peaceful conduct of the election process. There , remains a lot of concern over the manner people will react to the results. the community leaders and common man wants no violence irrespective of who wins or loses.Hopefully peace will prevail....will keep u all posted of developments in rutshuru territory .....

Anand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anand said...

@Anonymous (Nov 28, 6:42) - Thanks for the detailed update on Rutshuru. It's nice to have a little good news amidst all the shenanigans being focused on in the press. A contact in Butembo said things went pretty smoothly there as well. Obviously December 6th will tell us a lot, but the week in between promises to be pretty tense. I hope along with you that peaceful hearts prevail.

Anonymous said...

I am on the ground in Western Congo, not in Kinshasa. Last night on Radio Okapi they said that voting went normally in 99.6% of the 64,000+ polling stations. I'm not sure if this 0.4% includes polling stations that opened late or else that figure might be a bit optimistic. In any case the general consensus is that things went about as well as could be hoped for in the vast majority of the country. Also, those of us who were waiting until midnight on SUnday to hear the announcement of a delay now feel fairly silly. It was right to have the election on 11/28 - even though a few places were ill prepared I believe that on the balance the situation would have been much worse (politically, logistically, financially, etc.) if a delay was called for. We've yet to see this process through, but at this point I'm leaning towards declaring a victory for Mulunda and the CENI.

I would just like to add that the successful execution of the elections is a testament to what the least developed country (according to the UN HDR 2011) is capable of when you PAY THEM. We're not talking large sums of money either. $10/day for police and $35 for poll workers (money that is supposed to cover their 3 days of training, plus setting up, administering, and counting the vote). If you treat people like professionals you will get a good result.

Anonymous said...

i agree ...for absolutely limited payments...the task allotted was completed with aplomb -RUTSHURU MAN

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody,

I've been extremely anxious these last two days, as my mother and two of my siblings had not choice but lock themselves in as gunshots were heard from the evening of Monday, 28th until yesterday mid-afternoon, in the Kingabwa area of Kinshasa where they live.I was shocked by the underreporting of those events,as the local youth were clashing with security forces who were attempting to steal the ballot boxes! The people courageously risked their lives to defend their votes! Similar incidents were also reported at Barumbu and Lemba communes, all in Kinshasa.

Anyway, in the GB area where I live, things went on relatively well on election date. My wife and I were lucky to find our names on the list very quickly and could each vote in less than 3 minutes. My brother-in-law was not as lucky as we were: his name was nowhere to be found and he went,as instructed by CENI leadership, to the polling station where he got registered only to be sent away!

The first thing that stunned me was the ballot boxes which I thought would be very special, could not be manufactured by the local PLASTICA firm and had to be ordered from China. Rather, I was surprised to see...trash bin-like ordinary plastic boxes...Congolese realities where "commissions" are at stake!

Be that as it may,order was regrettably not the norm everywhere. And I say to myself that the official turnout will be misleading: really a lot of voters just got discouraged by this mess and returned home.

I don't know folks whether you've ckecked Colette Braeckman's blog yersterday. That's the simplistic sort of reaction I had anticipated many Kabilists would have after realizing the magnitude of their defeat: Kabila was the victim of a mere protest vote. Tshisekedi's win - I'm sorry to willingly put the cart before the horse like this- should be interpreted not only as the rejection of the Kabila system, a widespread longing for a change and dignity, but more as the desire to give this man who had sacrified so much for his country a try, at last. Congolese in their majority realized that we've fallen down so low! Congolese have proven their political maturity to the world and want to have this time around a final say about their destiny, as evidenced by their exceptional vigilence.

Not to discount the ethnic vote in the Kasais especially, two key factors I had long anticipated seem to have materialized: 1) Kabila's overwhelming media presence and the uneven playing field would backfire among voters in Western parts of the country who would opt former the opposition candidate who better epitomizes their desire for change; 2) the emergence of Kamerhe would be detrimental to Kabila.

All in all, the so-called split of the anti-Kabila vote did not happen or affect support for E.T. whom most voters saw as a credible agent of change. His smart tactics and the psychological war he successfully waged against his opponents ultimately paid off. Like before, many so-called international commentators, analysts got it wrong!

Once again, I'm sorry to sound triumphalistic but from what I saw in Kinshasa, coupled with testimonies from my sources in many provinces, I can confidently state that no amount of rigging will save Kabila. The people have spoken and done so loudly and clearly.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments. It is heart warming to
see that from your experience of the whole election process we can see that the Congolese
have spoken and taken their future in their own
hands under very difficult conditions at times.Thanks for the fairness in your comments.
We need more of your type of interventions to educate those who base their assessment of the DRC politics on a flawed understanding and cliches of today's DRC. Thanks again and let the will,the choice of the DRC people prevail.

Unknown said...

Thanks for updating the news.It is very informative post.Keep on updating.

Konto walutowe

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