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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How the cookie crumbles

Results are trickling in slowly, while speculations are flying around in all possible directions. Tshisekedi's people claim that they will win 55% of the vote, while the president's people are sure of victory. It is difficult to imagine a situation in which one of the hopefuls gracefully concedes; it is easy to imagine how violent escalation could take place.

I have posted some results below, all of which stem from Congolese civil society observers.

First, however, some developments. The compilation is proceeding very slowly, with only a few percent of votes in each province officially compiled. People who visit the four national compilation centers in Kinshasa report somewhat chaotic scenes, with some ballot envelopes torn and strewn about. Election commission president Ngoy Mulunda told reporters that election officials will invalidate any package that do not meet the requirements - which raised questions of what will happen with torn envelopes. In addition, he had previously been reported as saying that elections will not be repeated in areas where voters burned down polling stations, raising further question of voter disenfranchisement. The election commission is not making results known as it goes, and the media authority has banned any announcement of preliminary results in the press.

UDPS officials have been sending text messages around the country reporting the arrival of airplanes full of ballots after election day. Diplomats confirm that three airplanes arrived at Njili airport in Kinshasa - one on November 29, two on the morning of November 30 - from South Africa. While some sources suggest that the first plane had 20 tons of election material on it, I have not been able to confirm the freight of the second two planes. It would, of course, be strange for the government to be importing ballots to the country when voting had ended in the vast majority of areas.

In the meantime, all major observation missions have put out preliminary statements on the process. All congratulated the Congolese on elections and the election commission on rising to the huge logistical challenge. None of them passed judgment on the elections in general - that will have to wait for their final report - and only the Congolese Renosec monitors from civil society confirmed that there had been fraud, "but not enough to call into question the process." The Carter Center suggested that in 16% of cases irregularities led to a negative evaluation of voting, while the European Union provided an exhaustive list of flaws but did not suggest that this had compromised the overall process. We will have to wait for 5 days (and perhaps longer?) for a final conclusion.

Nonetheless, some preliminary results, to be taken with care (also, these are all urban areas):

Kananga town (53,000 votes counted):

Tshisekedi 95,7%
Kabila 3,5%

Uvira (38,000)

Kabila 65%
Kamerhe 30%
Tshisekedi 5%

Butembo town (63,000)

Mbusa Nyamwisi 37%
Kamerhe: 26%
Kabila: 22%

Beni town (54,000)

Mbusa Nyamwisi 33%
Kabila 24%
Kamerhe 21%

Bukavu (103,000)

Kamerhe 66%
Kabila 34%

Kisangani (unknown number of votes counted)

Kamerhe 2%-10%
Tshisekedi 2%-20%
Kabila 20%-80%


Anand said...

I understand observers have only made preliminary reports, but I am getting the sense that people feel the election is pretty legitimate. Didn't the Carter Center call on people to accept the results? But with plane loads of ballots coming into Kinshasa and all of the other irregularities, I don't quite understand how there is a prevailing opinion that the elections are basically legit. Seems like we have yet to understand the scope of any possible fraud and should hold off on characterizing the elections (and results). Are the calls from Carter and others to accept the results more or less just a veiled way of saying, "don't get violent please..."

Anonymous said...


The Carter Center (and others), in my view, somewhat jumped the gun here. There seems to be an effort, though I ofcourse can't be sure, of acknowledging an ok job of the elections and encouraging political actors to accept the results before each vote is tabulated and the final reports due on that process AND the overall election.

I believe that is being a little irresponsible and, it appears, is being done out of fear.

Fear of what? Jason alluded to it- violence.

Think about it: if you were an outside observer and, knowing full well what could happen if fraud occurs at a level that could sway the vote, would you admit it?

I hate to call them out like this but damn near everyone is frightened about the announcement.

The tabulations are still ongoing so, in my view, there should not be calls to "accept the vote" until the vote is counted and any irregularities are taken into account after that point.

Carter and others DID NOT do that during the Florida debacle in 2000 (I should know, I'm a 3rd generation Floridian and 24 year poll worker) and they shouldn't do it here either. Noone was clear what was going on- be it fraud or hanging chads- and it made sense to first count, recount, and investigate potential fraud, and THEN issue alerts about the vote.

Again, let's count the vote, issue final reports on the vote, and then make calls to "accept the vote" to all parties.

Jumping the gun in this manner helps noone.

I completely agree with your notion of the Center, and others, saying "don't get violent please...".


Anonymous said...

i completely agree that there seems to be this attempt to hold people at bay by prematurely claiming the vote was credible by the various observer missions.

that is very irresponsible in my view to do so UNTIL each vote is counted and any irregularities accounted for as it relates to those votes.

i completely understand what is the almost existential concern here among observers but if indeed this vote can be deemed “credible” than we must count, evaluate the count against irregularities, and then call a winner.

and yes, at that exact point we can say “we have a winner, the losers need to accept this graciously and without a drop of blood being shed”.


the observers are starting to lose quite a bit of credibility in my eyes of late and I am a long time donor to the Carter Center.


Anonymous said...

Jason, can stop you stop joking,posting SOME PRELIMINARY RESULTS, TO BE TAKEN WITH CARE, You first said that Tshisekedi was leading in beni now he is gone.
you are a liar and a joke. We know for who you work for. I wish I could meet in congo and confront you.

Anonymous said...

Question is not who won this election, Tshisekedi clearly is the winner. the problem is what result ceni will announce and how the west will react.

Anonymous said...

Jason, please do not post result anymore. Please. You do not have the results for all the polls. First you said that Tshisekedi was leading in Beni and now you said someone else, you did not even give the result of Tshisekedi.

Please stop posting the result. You are confusing people. No Congolese wants to joke with this election. We have suffered a lot and this election represents all for us. So please do not joke with it. It is our life. It helps us to remember millions of our brothers who died. PLEASE STOP POSTING THE RESULTS BECAUSE YOU DO NOT HAVE ALL THE RESULTS FOR THE DRC AND NOT EVEN ALL THE RESULTS FOR ONE CANDIDATE. PLEASE STOP IT.

Anonymous said...

Okay i don't see why we should get peeved with side issues about who was leading in Beni for now, to the extent of accusing Jason of having a hidden agenda.

Lets be patient and stop over reacting.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jason,
According to the preliminary results you have mentioned, find the following summary with out Kisangani:
Kamerehe = 107,100 votes
Kabila = 88,395 votes
Tshisekedi = 52,621 votes
Musa = 41,130 votes.

What is going on - People are confused, every one is packing to run any way.
Do you know how many mercenary on the ground - you will see them when i happens - I wish Kabila win for the sake of peace.

Rich said...

I just wanted to say, we can be as diplomatic and reserved as we wish but one thing is clear. When most of these political parties are saying they will RESPECT the results, they mean "RESULTS SAYING THEY ARE THE WINNER" and nothing else.

You just have to follow their comments to find out that they are stoking up for either contestation or celebration nothing close to HUMBLY acccepting DEFEAT. How do you clean that from people's mind?

I think we've already been here when some candidates said they were going to get 100% or even autoproclammed presidents well before the elections...

I am sorry but it will take something SPECIAL to avoid violence in the aftermath of these elections.

I hope that SPECIAL something will be there when needed.


Anonymous said...

Mbusa Nyamwisi's votes now transfer to Tshisekedi while Mbusa Nyamwisi endorsed Tshisekedi october 25th. Or doesn't it work like that?


Anonymous said...

just some quick updates from the news at this point.

first, CENI has ET up in 6 provinces, Kabila in 4, Vital in 1 according to its provisional counts.

i’m not going to comment further here other than to say CENI’s site is very informative and it also has a mobile version which makes it a great resource for the Congolese- who mostly have mobile broadband access.

second, I found this super helpful “What happens next?” piece from Reuters co-written by the awesome Johnny Hogg, a Kinshasa-based Reuters reporter. (Jason- do you know him? Can he guest blog here from time to time?)

In terms of a timeline this is what was layed out:

Dec 6th- CENI calls the Prez winner, sends results to Supreme Court to certify and hear complaints.
Dec 6th-17th- Supreme Court hears complaints/disputes and then certifies on 17th.
Jan 13th- CENI calls Legislative winners.

i’m just the messenger, folks!


@Vincent- No, that isn’t how it works. There are no rounds in this election. Now, the other Prez candidates can ofcourse publicly announce support for ET or JK depending, ofcourse, on the scale of the win and pre-established deals with either of these two. But the political market in the Congo won’t be set until the legislative win is announced on the 13th so it would be foolish to start the deal-making until that point.

Anonymous said...


The CENI site, and others, have been hacked so I wouldn't trust that site. (though it is informative)

They just announced, to quell all the rumors, that they will announce results every day beginning today and that the first announcement will be in a presser soon.


Anonymous said...

I am not talking about a deal now, but about Mbusa Nyamwisi offering his support to Tshisekedi as "candidat unique" reported on the benilubero site october 25th.


Anonymous said...


at this point, it doesn't make a difference what Nyamwisi does because it is still not clear if he won or not- the results here are preliminary.

it would be fine, in theory, for whoever finally wins for the losers to announce their support. but, even there, it wouldn't make any political difference given we only have one round of voting.

had their been two, then such an endorsement carries weight, but we don't have that now. it would be like an American presidential election without primaries. if obama, romney, gingrich, perry, and hillary all ran and obama got 41% gingrich both got 40%, it would make no difference if the others all endorsed obama or gingrich.

obama is the winner at 41% in this scenario.

end of story.

the underlying principle here is one man one vote and that principle is maintained in all democracies and must be so in the Congo.

what Nyamwisi did was just foolish and he clearly doesn't understand, or doesn't believe in, that most basic democratic principle.

a symbolic endorsement could have weight but very little.

in any event, Congolese friends say they are texting polling results and getting texts about results.

i wonder why CENI didn't reduce some costs here just set up an internal intranet in each polling station, connected by satellite broadband, and just counted the votes right there? Nigeria did that and only spent $75 million doing so. OR, CENI could have asked the cell providers- that cover the whole of the DRC- for spectrum and tried it that way- eliminating the need for costly satellite.

They could have even tried what Nepal is doing. The Nepalese have an entirely run and very secure electronic system. Everyone gets a voter card, ID'ed by their fingerprint, and the ballot is electronic with sound for those who are illiterate. To cut back on fraud, voters enter a poll, a card is scanned (thus finding the voter and ensuring no double voting), they vote at the booth by pressing the screen, they vote and a central database tabulates it all.

The Chinese tried to hack the system and its firewall prevented it. Totally secure, modern, and cheap- each polling station had a small solar generator making it REAL cheap.

Oh well. Really hope CENI, after all this, takes a long hard look at reducing costs and outsourcing things to Congolese businesses next time around.

elections are a big business and I am sure some enterprising Congolese could offer their services.


Anonymous said...


Contradictory. Why would Mbusa Nyamwisi endorse Tshisekedi october 25th without a transfer of his votes to Tshisekedi. I thought that was the whole point of the debate on the candidat unique.


Anonymous said...


In a single round election, you cannot, legally, "transfer votes". It is just not possible nor is it legal.

Nyamisi is just saying, before a single vote was cast, that he supported ET and encouraged his supporters to do the same after the vote but to STILL vote for him.

One cannot "transfer votes"- just allegiance. Jose is correct- one man one vote.

Anyway, really encourage the english speakers/readers to follow Reuters report Johnny Hogg- who is based in Kinshasa- on twitter.


Great up to date stuff.


Anonymous said...


An endorsement does not automatically transfer votes earned by the "endorser" to the "endorsee." That is because the endorser does not "own" the votes. Besides, as someone else pointed out, w/o a runoff, a belated endorsement by a candidate who is on the ballot does not add much value to the endorsee.

Btw, Radio Okapi has posted the partial results:

Anonymous said...


ceni clearly is counting Kabila ballots first and holding back Kinshasa votes.

oy vey


Anonymous said...


apparently Mbusa has not given his supporters the order to vote Tshisekedi as suggested on the beni lubero website:

"Ce qui reste à faire pour consommer ce marriage de la raison est la consigne de vote de Mbusa Nyamwisi pour Etienne Tshisekedi"


Anonymous said...


With due respect I can't let this go:

Kisangani (unknown number of votes counted)

Kamerhe 2%-10%
Tshisekedi 2%-20%
Kabila 20%-80%

Have you seen an interval of confidence of 60 % ?


Anonymous said...

The number of votes tallied in Butembo seems shockingly low. 63,000?

Beni is like a quarter of the size of Butembo, if that, and has only 10,000 fewer voters?

Seems strange to me...

Mbika said...

There are more shocking numbers coming with Ngoi Mulunda. I have decoded the numbers that he presented as "votes partiels" and some critical numbers do not fit with reality... Not time yet to unveil the disingenuous tactic.

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great blog! Thanks to all for mainly focusing on constructive exchanges and Jason for documentation efforts.

Electoral results
Anyone with a minimum understanding of the recent history and existing dynamics in Congo, knows that Kabila can not mathematically win. He mainly won the last elections thanks to the alliances with politicians from the Kivu provinces.
The votes are still for a big part influenced by ethnic alliances–and Tshisekedi is the main benefiter of the indirect alliances expressed by opposition leaders. And whatever money Kabila has spent to buy conscious, those voting have ultimately used the only power in their hands to chose the candidate that could guarantee them a minimum of relief: Kabila after 5 years of limited development advances, oppressive climate, continuous violence against women and men in the Kivu provinces and widespread corruption, for a majority of Congolese, can not be seen as the candidate to vote for.

Bias foreign observation missions
It’s indeed disconcerting how a majority of foreign “independent” observation missions are congratulating Congo on the electoral process. The message here clearly is: “ Africa-Congo be happy of what you have and shut up! We have decide.”. This underlying racism and double standards are insulting Congolese people intelligence. Thanks to OSISA (with 5000 local observers) for coming out with real critics. Shame to African institutions cautioning status quo and against people will.

What is next?
Whatever the outcomes, there will be blood.
The elites in power have been eating too well, how can they leave without resorting to all means to keep their advantages? Their various stratagems to manipulate the electoral results show also how desperate they are. The people killed by the presidential guard and the violent reactions –although still limited- of opposition militants during the elections give an indication of what is next. The movement behind Tshisekedi know these elections are maybe their last chance to come to power –they have been in the opposition for more then 30 years- and they will fight for it.
A majority of Congolese is deeply motivated for change. They are tired of being so poor while being so rich. The results of the revolutions in North Africa are in their conscious, how can they again accept their aspirations for change to be stolen?
We are no more in 2006, the world has changed, so have the Congolese.

Ultimately, whatever we thing, whatever the candidates decide, whatever the “international community” declare, the conscious of women and men of Congo will decide what they are ready to stand for. If they want Kabila to leave he will leave but how much are ley ready to sacrifice? And for how long? Could the Congolese elite use this coming crisis to unite and work to advance development in the country? Do we have the capacity to break peacefully the circle of predation? The “international community” will only support change if change happens from within.

I received this message (in French) from Kinshasa that give some clues of what is going on and what we can expect:
“Oui, les tendances donnent J Kabila comme vainqueur !!!
et hier il y a eu publication à la télé , les point de chacun obtenus dans les bureau déjà compiles et les tendance vont aussi à JKK....
Et la population est en colère et j'espère qu'ils ne feront pas de betise avant la publication provisoire du 6 ou 7 à 20h.
Ca stress de voir comment les gens se préparent , en mettant les provisions alimentaires, prévoyant le charbon au cas de coupure d'électricité !!!!!!!!!!!!
Dieu nous garde”

Anonymous said...

Just finished reading your book, could not put it down. Great work! I have a fascination with Africa and your book was an excellent source of info to try and understand (I guess it'd take a lifetime to really grasp it in its entirety...) Congo.
Glad to know that I can keep up with the current situation through your blog.
I used to live in Cameroun, an oasis of peace so far. Africa really gets in your blood, doesn't it?
Keep up the great work and thanks!
Massimo Oriani, Italy

Anonymous said...

Dear Jason, you write: "while the European Union provided an exhaustive list of flaws but did not suggest that this had compromised the overall process. We will have to wait for 5 days (and perhaps longer?) for a final conclusion. "

Your summary does not reflect the tone of the Mission: The EU preliminary declaration goes through all stages of the electoral process - up to compilation of results. Each one of them is described as critically flawed, especially with indications that DRC government including national media, CENI and Supreme Court have lacked impartiality in the process, or don’t have a sufficient degree of trust by the population.
Only Congolese voters are commended for participating - which could indeed be the only positive aspect of this process so far.

All the flaws described are highly likely to have an impact, but the effect is not known yet: what you refer to as overall process should include the crucial step of compilation of results. The (surprising) results you quote for Kisangani, I think, show that this has not been completed…
In all elections, irregularities can be remedied by an electoral commission, then the body in charge of announcing final results. The EU stresses that publication of results by polling stations is essential to allow candidates to lodge complaints where results do not reflect what was counted after the vote. It also criticizes the new legal process before Supreme Court, where there will only be in camera hearings.
What, in the overall process, has not been compromised yet?

Anonymous said...

The Congolese have shown that they are ready to turn the page on this predatory, barbaric (rape of women, men and children unpunished), repressive and violent regime. It pains me to read that this regime would be better because it ensures stability. It's the same discourse we heard under the sadistic rule of Mobutu. Under Kabila's rule, many companies have seen contracts unilaterally resiliated, how good is that for business? All we hope for is that the will of the people be respected, and that the 6 million deaths be honored by respecting the results of this vote and restauring the Congolese people's dignity. Hope the West stops being so greedy and selfish and doesn't support this totalitarian regime.

Anonymous said...

Radio Okapi has just posted the updated partial results of the presidential elections:

Things don't look up for the incumbent.

Anonymous said...

um, yeah, it isn't looking good for the rais.

as others have noted, ET is doing very well in his Kasai's, Equator, Bas Congo, and has double the lead in Kinshasa- with considerable room for improvement.

jk strong points have all mostly come in and is being whacked in the Kivu's where, surprisingly, ET is doing fairly well considering.

so, while this is early still, the countours of this vote are becoming clear and while I am with J. Stearns that its going to be tight we might just see an ET upset.

which, to be clear, would be a big fucking deal.

i'm personally growing concerned with the reports of military being dispersed out to provinces, cutting SMS, and the weird lack of discpline coming from the regime on the SMS situation- Mende said "no, its not us", whereas the Interior Minister just stated it was "us" and for security purposes.

the regime is clearly getting ancy so I gather things are about to get pretty hot in the Congo in the next 48 hours.

i also think its irresponsible in this climate to release these numbers but given the rumor mill it is understandable.


Anonymous said...

Uvira, really? Looks like the Territorial Administrator was out on force,again...

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