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, December 13, 2011

Random thoughts and facts

In no particular order:

1. Kamerhe officially challenged the election results at the Supreme Court in the name of the opposition. I don't know what exactly his case is, or what it means that he submitted it for the entire opposition (Tshisekedi's son Felix was with him when he submitted the claim). The Supreme Court has until Saturday to pass a verdict. They have the mandate to confirm the election outcome, or to invalidate all or part of the results. I'm not sure whether they can also say they need more time - given the number of irregularities, I don't know how they could possibly pass judgement in four days. As has frequently been reported, 18 new judges were named to the Supreme Court just weeks before the elections, giving rise to accusations of bias toward the presidency.

2. As has been widely reported, the Catholic Cardinal Monsengwo has panned the elections, saying the results are "not conform to the truth or to justice." In a radio interview, he also seems to be saying that he think Tshisekedi has won the elections. Shortly afterwards, however, the head of the protestant Church of Christ in the Congo, Marini Bodho, shot back: "These elections do conform to the truth and justice." A battle of the men of the cloth; the elections might have an impact on state-church relations for some time. (Ngoy Mulunda was reported as reacting: I had expected nothing less from the Cardinal). Meanwhile, Amnesty International was forced to publicly dismiss a press statement released in its name endorsing the election results.

3. However, Ngoy Mulunda has now hit back, saying that the Carter Center did not have a comprehensive view of the results, as they were only present in 14,79% of voting stations. 

4. There has been some talk about the vote par dérogation (h/t to Mwana Kin). This is the list of people who are allowed to vote outside of the districts where they registered. It is usually for state employees who have to travel for work, including the families of security personnel and election officials. This year it was incredibly high: over 3,5 million out of 18,9 million voters, almost 20% of voters. In 2006, the number of votes by derogation was denounced by observers, and it was only 6,6%. The reason this list is dangerous is that it eliminates one of the safeguards against fraud, namely checking the name of the voter against the list of voters provided to the polling station in advance. If, for example, someone had been able to obtain a fake voter card, as well as an official "ordre de mission" saying he had to travel during this period, she would be able to vote anywhere she wanted to.

In this case, my guess is that the flawed voter registers led to such huge listes des dérogations. Because of confusion in the run-up to the vote, many voters were not able to find the polling stations where they were supposed to vote. So the election commission decreed that voters could vote anywhere in the district where they had registered. But since election officials could not find their names on the voter registers, they were placed on the liste des dérogations, instead of the liste des omis as they should have been. In fact, I have not seen a liste des omis, leading me to wonder if they just merged the two.

4. A few other strange results that have popped up in recent days. How come the turnout rate for the remote province of Walikale, where voters had to walk long distances to get to polling stations, was 92%, while that of the rest of the province was 63%? In the same province, Kivu Confidential highlights the almost perfect scores that Kabila got in areas controlled by CNDP troops, averaging 96%. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, why did the territory of Kwamouth in Bandundu have a turnout of a measly 26%, in contrast to the 56% average for the province? None of these facts are proof of anything, just peculiarities worth looking into.

5. Missing results: In addition to the roughly 2,000 missing polling stations in Kinshasa, there are 156 mission stations in Kiri (Bandundu) and 122 in Mbuji-Mayi. The Carter Center said there may be over 1,000 polling station outside of Kinshasa that have not been counted. The number of voters per polling station varies, with most seeing between 300 and 500 voters.


Anonymous said...

It is also worth mentioning the total tally of E Tshisekedi thqt decreases between 06 Dec and 09 Dec 2011; per details below:
Date 06-Dec-11 09-Dec-11
Vote 5,927,451 5,864,775
Comp rate 89% 94.60%
An additional 3 401 were compiled and of the 3 main candidates, only E Tshisekedi saw his numbers decrease. V kamerhe (+110 440) and J Kabila (+327 321).
Lack of credibility indeed !!

Anonymous said...

thanks for this update, jason!

Anonymous said...

Who the hell is Marini Bodho? And how many observers him and his church had send to cover the election?


Anonymous said...

Worth mentionning that the Catholic church had observers in more than 30000 key polling stations. They know the results: Etienne Tshisekedi is the winner of the presidential election.

Anonymous said...

Marini Bodho is unknown to the Congolese. Must have been paid by Kabila, like Ngoy Mulunda.

Vincent Harris said...

How long will Marini Bodho be at the helm of the umbrella organisation of protestant churches after this.

Anonymous said...

honestly, what is wrong with requiring (and paying for) this to all be redone?

if kabila is confident of his victory, and etienne the same there can be nothing wrong with simply doing a redo, right?

BUT, if a redo occurs the following must be agreed to by both parties:

- MONUSCO supervises the entire thing though the Congolese ofcourse can do the counting
- no party observers. MONUSCO should simply get a list of literate voters, fly them to wherever, train them, and then allow them to observe and serve as marshals. this process can be real easy if MONUSCO simply sends a text message over all the cell networks asking for volunteers that they will pay and train.
- use a jack simple ballot with just the 11 candidates for president. the ballot should have the # of the polling center, the # of the voter, the thumbprint of the voter.
- give every marshal and observer a cellphone and use ushahidi to report any craziness.
- require counting to be done AT the polling station and simply text in those numbers- no regional or central count centers just do everything at the individual poll.
- make the recount PUBLIC- put it on TV, radio, etc. Let the cold, harsh, and uncompromising light of the media glare fall upon the counters. nothing more "transparent" then literally having reporters present during the count.
- the results MUST be accepted by all parties after this recount

both Kabila and Etienne are behaving rather irresponsibly at the moment. well, that's all fine and good but if both bloaks are so certain that the people support them then let's put that to the test with a revote. under the conditions I laid out there can be neither fraud nor under or over counting. and if all done publicly this would squash the remarkable rumour mill that all parties have been using for their advantage in ADDITION to deepening a sense of the importance of a free and vigorous media in the democratic culture of the congolese- something that is sorely needed.

enough with the brinkmanship.

it is well past time that every ambitious congolese- and most certainly the elite- understand that one cannot cheat, bribe, kickback, suppress, oppress, and kill your way to power.


Anonymous said...

folks, i know this idea of mine comes across as pie in the sky.

but do you have a better idea?

all the options here totally and completely suck:

- option 1: go to the supreme court. yeah, ever tried to get justice in a congolese court? i have and they suck.
- option 2: mediation. perhaps if things get worse but, right now, there are like 30,000 troops in the street, Etienne is basically under house arrest, and Kofi is "busy".
- option 3: recount. recount an already spoiled batch of votes? or a batch that doesn't include missing stations? or a batch that may include false voters?
- option 4: civil war. that option should seem obvious on the need to avoid. but, for militants on both sides, that IS an option. and rwanda and uganda would SURELY love to assist the belligerents.
- option 5: do nothing, allow the results. yep, and that option will likely trigger some low grade version of option 4.
- option 6: revote. yes, more money, another process, but it avoids all the other bad options.

if folks have a better idea here other than the coming train wreck i'd love to hear it.

and that means you too Mr. Stearns.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think we need to get a clear "no" from the Supreme Court and then a whole lot of death and blood in the streets before any of these options, or some variant, occurs. The international community suffers from a severe case of "congo fatigue" in that without fail, every 15 or so years, the congo takes yet another flight into the abyss.

And, ofcourse, the elites in the Congo simply cannot muster the maturity to be responsible and don't trust the international community to assist in any event.

So, let's get to some blood and violence and state oppression first and revisit the options.

Blood has a way of clarifying priorities in the generally anti-cartesian mind of your typical Congolese man and spurring the involvement of the Cartesians in the West.

Its been this way for literally a century and I don't see a reason to depart from this basic model now.

Sorry for the cynicism but a healthy dose of reality needs to guide our thoughts when it comes to the country.

Anonymous said...

@jose You are missing one possibility. Kabila recognizes that he has stolen the election, he leaves power and there are no more problems.

Anonymous said...

If Kabila is smart he will take either option 6 or, more likely, option 2.

He cannot hold an entire nation hostage or continue to pay for the security mobilization we currently have in Kinshasa and the Kasai's.

What if rebels/the Mai Mai decide to take advantage of the concentration of forces in these areas? What does he do then?

How long can he restrict freedom of movement of Etienne before the international community begins to suspect fraud given this harsh measure and the security buildup?

Should he ignore the real and increasing concerns with this vote he also risks diplomatic and, perhaps, financial isolation from the West beyond the situation that exist now.

And the so called "BRIC"'s will not come to his rescue given the multitude of crises enrupting in the world at the moment.

I could see him continuing down this path if he didn't have a nation half funded by foreigners and the largest UN presence in the world holding some measure of stability in the volatile East.

He increasingly has no leverage so if the elite in Kinshasa and Katanga do not want to further weaken the already weak legitimacy of their rule option 6 or 2 is the best course of action.


Anonymous said...

financial isolation from the west would never be anything more than a temporary measure. the west grossly overestimates the force of that stick.

Anonymous said...

Popular mobilization against Kabila in Kin and the Kivus is timid at best, either for fear of violence or for simple indifference. The West is not itching for a protracted fight with the Kabila regime, especially since the case against the legitimacy of the election results is not as clear cut as in Ivory Coast or Kenya.

Projection: in two weeks, life in Kin will be back to normal as Congolese politicians start to focus on results of the parliamentary elections and make calculations about positioning for the next five years.

Nobody is willing or able to pay for another round of elections. Remember that these elections were largely funded by the Congolese. That's one of the reasons why the West is reluctant to take a strong position.

Anonymous said...

kabila should allow the congolese institutions to play their role, i.e., the supreme court should be allowed to render its decision as provided for by law, and then move on. continued pressure from the west -- ostensibly in name of strengthened democracy -- may actually succeed in undermining congo's institutions, no matter how fragile or imperfect they are, leaving aside any notion of congolese sovereignty.

Anonymous said...

There is no "congolese sovereignty" to speak of so the idea that Kabila calls all the shots here is laughable, at best, and wishful thinking at worst.

When the Congo is fully able to fund its ENTIRE budget and police its borders and secure its people from wanton violence than we can talk about sovereignty.

Not there yet and, likely, will not be for some time given the elite in Kinshasa have ZERO interests in institutions that clip their power or prevent their feedy frenzy.

Hate to be blunt but those are the facts.

This is not a sovereign state and has not been, in the eyes of the world atleast, for well over 15 years.

Finally, what body of law or established precedent will the SC judges go by? Does either even exist in the Congo? Sure, they should go the "legal route" but without underlying law as to how to a) examine and investigate claims of fraud b) who is the aggrieved party in a suit c) how that aggrieved party is to be made whole/compensated is entirely unclear and thus is subject to capricious decisions.

How is that justice?

I say Obama simply pick up the phone, call Kabila and Etienne, and say something along the lines of the following:

"I don't have time for this bullshit. Its fairly clear to most non-partisan observers this election was fraudelent and if you think we are all stupid because you've managed to adroitly hide the evidence to prove it you fail to take seriously our righteous demand for the voice of the Congolese people to be heard via credible and transparent elections. I'm a Chicago politician- trust me when I say I know all the tricks in the books. Hell, we wrote the damn book. I cannot be fooled so please do not believe you are the smartest guys in the room- your not, that would be me. You will both enter a mediation process to work out who rules what until next time around. Failure to work out such a deal will simply mean we will not only freeze every asset you and "your boys" have and those you think we don't know you have but we will ensure the IMF and World Bank give you the cold shoulder. I will also instruct the SEC to RIGOROUSLY implement Dodd-Frank so that mining deals become next to impossible to operationalize. Is all this clear gentlemen? Hope so cuz I will not be having this conversation again. And, just to conclude, if you think I'm playing or think you can call on your friends in Beijing, Luanda, Pretoria, or Brasilia just remember those final pictures the world saw of Gbango, Osama, and Gaddafi and the contretemps of those capitals. I'm pretty sure you are clear who won the day. Give my regards to your lovely wives."

No need for recounts, revotes, and all this jazz.

Let O do his work and all will be well.

** Marie

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I Mosengwo was speaking for the congolese catholic church, then everything have been said. In their carefully choosen words, not conform to truth and justice means they cheated and the winner was not rewarded. Remember that the Church had 1 observer in half the polling stations accross the nation. About the so called International Community, it's shameful that no one among them dares take his responsability and call a FRAUD a FRAUD.

Anonymous said...

In order to call "a fraud a fraud" one has to first prove that fraud occurred, and at such levels to as to have materially altered the vote.

The burden of proof to prove fraud occurred is on the observers- not CENI or even Kabila.

Now, the international community IS asking CENI to publish the poll by poll results which is in keeping with the law.

CENI has yet to do so and until this happens there can be no tangible proof of fraud- just circumstantial evidence of irregularities. As Jason notes, simply doing this basic audit will not erase things like ballot stuffing, kids voting, voting under coercison, shut down poll centers, fake poll centers, and all the other means by which one can cook a vote.

But the longer this basic demand goes unheeded by CENI the harder it will become to prove a case of electoral fraud.

The opposition should sue CENI to force them to a) publish all polling stations b) release poll by poll results.

Doing both will uncover fraud if it has occurred and both are in keeping with Congolese law- which CENI is in violation of.


Anonymous said...

and, I will just further add that it is important for the Congolese to go through with legal challenges at the Supreme Court- even if the attempt is futile.

One cannot build a democracy if people do not "work" democratic institutions. As others have pointed out, there is no law or legal precedent that informs the judges on the bench as to how to deal with a challenges to an election.

Well, both CENI and the Supreme Court are institutions the Congolese have created to secure their rights and freedom. They may be stacked with Kabila loyalists but these are institutiona worthy of keeping and strengthening over time.

Like any muscle, you can't get stronger if you don't use it. Thus, while I understand others frustrations with Congolese "justice" the responsible course- long term for this young and fragile nation- is to seek legal redress and to "work" their institutions so as to make them better.

It is for this reason why I so admire Vital Karmerhe and have real issues with Etienne. ET seems to have no respect, whatsoever, for either the law or institutions in the Congo for the simple fact that, in his words, they are "Kabila's institutions".


They are the Congolese's institutions and if this nation is to ever get better people like Kabila and ET need to get away from this notion that an institutions are expendable and subject to their whims.

That is no way to build a nation.

You cannot have the rule of law without strong institutions. Once must follow the other.


Anonymous said...

the EU, I believe, just added yet another damning report to the elections.

here's the new of their report:

this comment more or less sums it up though, ofcourse, they stopped short of saying the results are fraudulent which mostly makes sense given they are observers after all:

"Several polling station results published the night of the count and observed by our teams on the ground ... do not correspond with those published by the CENI"


well, atleast we now know that when Kabila said "100%" he absolutely meant 100%.


Anonymous said...

One question: Why are the opposition members of the CENI playing along with the alleged fraud? Were all "bought" by Kabila? Including the otherwise respectable Djoli?

Anonymous said...

Simple answer:

To publicly disagree with Ngoy is to publicly disagree and be at variance against Kabila.

How exactly has that played out for people in moments like these?

No need for money. The threat of disappearing is more than enough to ensure obedience which, in this case, means silence.

Just watch the "Godfather" if this doesn't seem clear.

Anonymous said...

To counter cardinal Monsengwo argument that E Tshisekedi lost 64 000 votes between 06 Dec and 09 Dec, it seems tome that CENI is changing its numbers again. On 06 Dec 2011, E Tshisekedi had 1 260 454 votes in Kasai Occidental with an overall compilation rate of 89.2%. The number has now changed to 1 026 454, which gives a total of 5 683 000 votes to Tshiskedi on 06 Dec.
Jason's blog on 07 Dec gives Tshisekedi a total of 5 927 437. The same total that I calculated on that day. When you look at the comments, you will also notice that 1 260 454 is used.
Am I going crazy ou is CENI hopeless ?

Anonymous said...

Could someone answer something for me?

I'm trying to understand why Kabila has support at all. And, to be clear, I do have a fairly deep knowledge about the Congo, its history, and Kabila's rise to power. I also understand that, generally, the Congolese have very little faith in their government and have even lower expectations for their leaders- if that's even possible.

What is this about? Why would any Congolese man or woman support someone who, from a purely objective standpoint, has failed to deliver on damn near everything- save "stability" ofcourse.

I hate to make comparisons but as much as I liked Obama back in 08', in my view he shouldn't be re-elected. He promised change and we got 2 cents. So, I will either vote Republican or not vote at all. I just don't believe he's done anything worth my vote.

Ofcourse, unlike the Congolese, I am American, and our political system generally generates a political class that, while differing in ideology, are more or less united by the adherence of the rule of law and other matters. The "training ground" for leaders in America is DEEP. You run for city council, then state legislature, then statewide, then perhaps for Congress, then Senate, then, if you are ambitious, President of the USA.

This creates a deep bench of leaders year after year so my options are wide whereas, I suppose, this isn't the case for the Congolese.

I understand these differences but what I guess I don't understand is how anyone could willingly vote for someone who, objectively, has failed to deliver the most basic of things.

Is this tribal or ethnic? Is it a cultural difference in assessing what makes a leader? Is it coercion or social pressure? Is it all of this? None of this?

So, I will ask for enlightenment: why would any Congolese man or woman support Kabila? What is their reasoning? And, if there is no "reason", what is behind the support?

I just don't understand but I am trying to understand better.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Here come the opposition's call for international mediation.

I don't see Kabila agreeing to a power-sharing deal, especially with results of the parliamentary elections still pending. Short of a power-sharing deal, I have no idea what else there is to negotiate, especially after the opposition has entrusted its claims to the Supreme Court. After the Court speaks, wouldn't that be the end of it? You can't go to court while arguing that you will accept the verdict only if it goes your way.

But again, Congolese politicians LOVE negotiations. They adore "table-rondes," "conclaves," and other similarly-named gatherings where per diem are paid and positions of power are divvied up.

Anonymous said...

Now congolese want other people to go and find their dirty fight on their behalf. When congolese will take their fate on their hand? OBAMA has his own election coming up why would he waste his time picking up a fight to save lazy congolese who cannot fight for themselves? Come on people do as Tunisians and Egyptians did for their own dignity. Get to the streets and take your country back. Of course people will die but don't they say: NO PAIN, NO GAIN? Freedom has a price!

Anonymous said...


Here is an attempt to answer your question, which, I suspect, has a tinge of irony baked in it.

The idea that Kabila is a total failure is not an absolute truth. Not all Congolese agree with that statement. Kabila is typically judged against his long-serving predecessor, Mobutu. For many, he has done better than Mobutu in many respects. Even the fact that the Congo has held two successive elections, with their flaws and all, is put to his credit. After all, Mobutu never gave Tshisekedi or any opponent a chance! The macro-economic environment in the Congo and the Congolese currency have held up rather well over the last few years. The last few years have also seen the emergence of an urban middle class, be it a small one (people working for newly established financial institutions, small business owners, cross-border tradesmen, mining companies, etc.). These are people who may vote on the side of status quo.

In the political elite, Kabila has the support of many heavy-weight pols across the country because he is viewed as someone who honors political deals. In a country were politicians were accustomed to switching sides every evening, politicians are truly impressed by how Kabila honored his agreement with Gizenga's PALU and Mobutu's UDEMO during the last five years. And that, despite some loud voices in his own party calling for an end to the agreement. That sense of trust earned Kabila the complete loyalty of Gizenga, to the point that PALU has basically chosen to be a regional party to support Kabila in Kinshasa and Bandundu. In purely political terms, that kind of loyalty is golden.

Tshisekedi, on the other hand, is haunted by his notorious impulsiveness displayed in the 90s during the Conference Nationale Souveraine when he was chosen by the opposition as prime minister only to renegate on this promise to share the spoils (he famously proclaimed "Je ne dois rien a personne; Je dois tout au peuple" to explain that he was not bound by previous deals). Politicians (including Congolese) tend to study history and learn from it.

Congolese who voted for Kabila are not irrational beings. They live in the Congo and could size up the candidates rather well. This is the acknowledgment of the irony of your query.


Anonymous said...

Thanks! That was actually really helpful for me!

What I got from that, and folks can correct me if I am wrong, is that:

a) economic growth has occurred and a small and growing middle class is emerging- which translates into general support for Kabila. That totally makes sense.

b) deal making in the Congo is pretty constant and Kabila has, more or less, kept the bulk of them.

c) broadly speaking, the Congolese are gaining more freedom in contrast to life under Mobutu. Sure, its not what it could be but from the perspective of the Congolese it is real change.

This all makes sense.

I guess as a student of English history (and now of the Congo), I do have more questions on this deal-making culture. Clearly, this has its down sides which appear to be constantly shifting the chairs in his goverment (which leads to instability on the policy side) and, ofcourse, tolerating corruption and rogue generals in the East. But I guess I just wonder if the need to constantly deal cannot translate into instutition building.

As the history of British monarchs and Mobutu's rule made clear, after a certain point, you run out of spoils because the system can't produce more goodies. In the former case, this meant rebellious barons who engaged in various intrigues to get rid of their King. In the latter, the Congo state fell apart.

I think it would be interesting then to figure out a way for Kabila to build lasting institutions to either clip the power of his "barons" or diffuse or neutralize them in a way that builds up the state, you know?

I do get the feeling that Kabila is rather obssessed with consolidating power vs building institutions that could threaten what power he has built thus far.

It wasn't until English Kings began to see that Parliament could actually serve their interests- namely by using the House of Commons to check the power of the House of Lords- did they see the value in institutions at all. Indeed, once Parliament won the exclusive right to tax, enter into treaties, create budgets, give out monopolies to favored businessmen, etc, Kings (and Queens) were then able to raise funds for war by framing it as "tax the rich" and thus getting the Commons to join them.

I guess my point here is how do we encourage Kabila to relax the deal making and, instead, encourage him to see institutional building as a means to consolidating his power?

Sure, Etienne doesn't like to do "deals" because he likely sees them as the root of the many problems in the Congo given its history.

While he comes across as holier than thou and selfish, I think that IS a good critique of Congo's political history. Thus, it would be interesting to encourage intellectuals in the Congo to both remind Kabila of the cycle and trap that deal making gets the Congo in and, at the same time, encourage him to build strong institutions that can serve the people and his interests.

Or, perhaps the discussion is how to create a political entity that pushes power out as opposed to centralizing it all in Kinshasa?

Just a thought.

But thanks for this by the way!


Anonymous said...

that's interesting, Clay.

One thing to keep in mind about the European analogy (which one can see in the pre-colonial Kongo and Luba empires by the way) is that European monarchs had to also subvert feudalism- the economic system- to get to independent institutions and do so with the middle classes.

or in otherwards, the political system had to basically follow the economic system.

so, to the degree that the congolese middle class expands and infrastructure is in place that allow it to expand, educate their kids, get rich, etc, the political system and deal making calculus will shift as well.

one did not see political liberation of europeans until the advent of the reformation- a VERY volatile upheaval in european history. why? most protestants, or those that became protestants, were newly arrived middle class. smart monarchs, like elizabeth I, made alliagence with them so as to clip the power of her scheming barons. those that didn't, like in france, lost their political battles and as a result often their thrones.

remember, independent institutions are the "armor" of the middle classes. so, it is probably the case that kabila, or someone else down the road, will make a political choice to support the small, but emerging congolese middle classes in the cities and towns because it will be in their interest to do so to check the power of what you term congolese "barons".

in the process, we will not only get a stronger state and democracy but a much more just economy that doesn't begin and end with what lies under the ground in the congo but between the ears of the congolese.

right now, the congolese middle class is too tiny, struggling to emerge, and hasn't formulated an identity for itself nor has champions among the intellectuals. as a result, they are not taken too seriously and hence why we have all this deal-making and tribal/political alliance building and shifting.

let us know how your studies go on this end!


Anonymous said...

Just want to add that I completely agree with these assessments of Kabila and Etienne.

The idea that Kabila has "failed" simply ignores Congolese context. The man has not failed, but, as I said before, he has not succeeded either. The Congo is, generally speaking, at peace and its economic fundamentals are sound. No, its not perfect but after years under a dictatorship and several more in rebellion that is something to speak of.

Etienne, for all his considerable powers of intellect and moral certitude, is pretty unhinged. The Congo has so many problems and it is perfectly fine to question whether he is able to rise to its many challenges. For Americans, it is alot like John McCain. Noone questions McCain's dedication to his country. But at so ripe an age and John's own weirdness that tends to come with that age, Americans in large numbers choose a more vigorous leader to sail them into better seas. ET's central critique about the Congo, the lack of the rule of law and the "deal-making" culture, is spot on. The question, ofcourse, is can he effectively tackle them? Can he govern? This remains an open question and one, apparently, both the Congolese and the West believe is not something he can effectively do. The Congolese call him their Mandela. Well, I beg to differ. Mandela's leadership ability is far and above that of Etienne's on many levels. Need proof? The ANC did not collapse when Mandela was sent to jail for over 25 years. The ANC birthed leader after leader, a sound system of organization and governance (as Malema himself is finding out the hard way) and a platform for governance. The ANC never challenged the integrity of their foreign friends but reached out to others to assist them in the liberation struggle against apartheid. UPDS activists abroad scare the hell of out you should you disagree with their line. They are pretty bad at making friends and see imperialists everywhere. When Etienne checks out, the UDPS falls apart.

Again, it is always important to context assessments of Congolese leaders, the complex environment they must operate in domestically, within the region, and internationally, and the uniqueness of Congolese culture.

Yes, more is needed but let's give the Congolese the space they need to find their way in the world of democratic life.

They will get there.


Anonymous said...

@anon 3:23 &
@anon 4:34

There are (unsubstantiated) allegations of $250,000 changing hands between one of Kabila's big man vying for a gubernatorial seat and the vp. Of course as unsubstantiated as they are, there's no proof it was ordered by the big man nor can we say exactly what it was for...

Anonymous said...

i also want to pour some damp, cold water on the misrepresentation of Gingrich's dissertation on Belgian educational policy in the colonial Congo.

adam hothchild puts it in its proper context:

trust me when i say i will do everything in my power to ensure gingrich does not get close to the white house. i agree that gingrich's brand of politics, also practiced by the clinton's, is in large measure why america has grown so partisan over the years. and I also agree the palestinian comment was incredibly insensitive and irresponsible. (though the view of an "invented people" and the congo as "not real" is a widely shared narrative among America's right wing)

however, gingrich wrote a pretty balanced dissertation that, in certain moments, criticized belgian rule for not better preparing the congolese for independence, raping the nation so viciously, and disrespecting tribal cultures and systems. of all the colonial powers, one can make the claim that belgian rule was the most venal and self-absorbed and, as a result, helped unleash the chaos we have seen- and continue to see- in rwanda, burundi, and the drc.

let's try not to confuse our distaste for gingrich with his considerable skill as an intellectual and this dissertation.

i am totally repulsed by gingrich's "search and destroy and divide" brand of politics as i did the clinton's counter politics- which is one reason i'm in the obama camp and was so very happy hillary lost her primary against him. but i do admire his intellect and its possible to separate the two.


Tony said...

I still not understand why you are not giving the text of the CENI answer on the Carter Center, why such a very superfiocial synopsis on radio Okapi.
the text of the answer of CENI is here :

Anonymous said...


perhaps because "la colombe" is a blog, a blog run by former editors of a paper well known for parroting the official line from the regime, and because the "answer" provided on it doesn't have an original statement- either linked as a document or uploaded as a document- from CENI itself?

indeed, ceni has yet to provide a clear refutatiton of either the Carter Center's, CENCO, nor the EU's reports so how can we corroborate the sources of la colombe?

more importantly, these are not "answers" but criticisms of the process Carter used which, given CENI has all but ONE election under its belt, is like a patient telling a doctor who informed them they have cancer calling into question the doctor's professional accreditation and the diagnosis.

give us a break, tony!

its fine to take issue with observers. but, the regime itself said the process was not perfect right? well, ok, then why was that the case and what is ceni going to do to address irregularities documented by both local and international observers?

ceni has yet to answer these central claims and as long as they refuse to do so it feeds the perception that they don't want to which further feeds the perception they have something to hide.

what is ceni going to do about these charges?

accuse the observers of supporting the etienne? why is ceni giving a political answer to questions about its methods concerning the tabulation process?
is ceni filled with infallible beings not capable of making mistakes?
is to question them somehow above reproach?
is that any way to run a public institution that serves the congolese people?

i want to be clear and say that all parties here are acting irresponsibly and engaging in political brinkmanship.

but that isn't excuse for ceni- AND INDEPENDENT INSTITUTION-to continue doing so given this could be a severe conflagration in the making.


Charlie said...

who is commenting on your own blog with different identities? Its so obvious! Putting silly, obvious errors in some comments. can't change your inner voice as much as you try.

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