DRC: Last Minute Campaigning and Complaining

As Sunday's presidential election approaches, and the campaign period closes today, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) bloggers chronicle last minute campaigning and complaining by some of the 30 or so candidates and other actors.

Candidates’ Backgrounds

Prince du Fleuve du Congo continues a debate with Christian Geraud about Joseph Kabila and the merits of the many allegations that question the candidate's nationality, his filiation to Laurent Kabila and other outstanding questions on his background. The blogger posts Christian Geraud's latest email debunking the various allegations. Geraud generally believes that there are not enough facts to substantiate the various rumors about Kabila:

Est-ce vrai que Kabila avait incarcéré son épouse, est-il vrai que Joseph Kabila l'en avait sorti et est-il vrai que c'est Joseph Kabila qui avait déconseillé à son père de se rendre au sommet de l'Union Africaine. (…) Rien qu'en examinant ces trois premières questions, je constate qu'ils n'y a aucun fondement sur les faits avérés et donc c'est tout à fait normal qu'il n y ait de réponses pour elles.

Is it true that [Laurent] Kabila incarcerated his spouse, is it true that Joseph Kabila freed her and is it true that it was Joseph Kabila who advised his father against going to the [2001]African Union summit?(…) Just analyzing these three questions, I conclude that there is no foundation for the alleged events and it is therefore completely normal that there are no answers for them.

Light in the Heart of Darkness chronicles some of the last minute moves of other candidates, including Bemba's walk from the airport to Kinshasa, and his decision to start a fire near his own campaign headquarters to burn the belongings of squatters camping near it. In the process, she provides some background on the candidate. She also tells us about Ruberwa's whereabouts.

More and More Candidates Skeptical About Process

Le Blog du Congolais notes that a growing number of candidates are denouncing irregularities and wonders why they waited until the last minute to echo some of the gripes that Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UDPS) leader Etienne Tshisekedi had all along:

En moins d’une semaine des élections, aux 19 candidats, récemment réprimés sur le boulevard du 30 juin, s’est ajouté le très modéré Z’AHIDI Arthur NGOMA, vice-président du Congo en charge du social, qui dénonce une parodie d’élections et réclame, à la place de cette mascarade électorale, des concertations pour crédibiliser un processus qui a tout l’air d’être conçu pour le triomphe d’un candidat désigné d’avance ailleurs qu’au Congo.

Less than a week to elections, moderate Z'AHIDI Arthur NGOMA, DRC Vice-President in charge of social issues, just added himself to the list of 19 candidates recently repressed on the June 3oth Boulevard. He denounces the elections as a parody and asks that instead of the electoral mascarade, talks take place to make credible a process which otherwise looks conceived to foster the triumph of a candidate designated in advance outside of the Congo.

Il convient aussi de relever les menaces à peine violées de Jean-Pierre BEMBA, l’autre vice-Président en charge de l’économie qui avertit qu’il ne se plierait, en cas de défaite, que devant un scrutin transparent.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, the other Vice-President in charge of the economy has made thinly veiled threats that he will only cave, in case of a defeat, to a transparent election.

Il est fait état, dans les milieux proches du Dr Kashala, de Pierre Pay Pay et de Diomi, trois autres candidats à l’élection présidentielles des entraves leur posés de la part des autorités portuaires et aéroportuaires, qui seraient instrumentalisés par Kabila, non seulement pour le dédouanement et l’acheminement de leur matériel de propagande, mais aussi pour leur déplacement en provinces. Une situation que même la MONUC se borne juste à déplorer.

In circles close to Dr. Kashala, Pierre Pay Pay and Diomi, three other candidates have run into problems with port and airport authorities which are allegedly controlled by Kabila, not only in getting their P.R. materials out of customs and in transit but also in transporting them to the provinces. A situation that even the UN mission is barely deploring.

Avec tous ces entraves aujourd’hui déplorés, la découverte des 5 (7.5, 10 ??) millions de bulletins de vote supplémentaires non signalés par Malu Malu, l’abbé président de la commission électorale dite indépendante (CEI), les réponses alambiquées sur la localisation du serveur et les programmes informatiques utilisés, les 216 bureaux de votre fictifs signalés par le quotidien Le Phare, … tous se rendent compte, encore une fois, alors que le vin est tiré, que comme toujours, Tshisekedi, avait vu juste. L’exigence de requalification de cet homme, coupable d’être toujours en avance sur son temps, n’était donc pas une bouderie de plus.

With all these problems, the discovery of 5 (7.5, 10??) millions of ballots not accounted for by Electoral Council Chief Revd. Malu Malu, ambiguous answers on the location of the server and programs used, the 216 fictitious voting centers highlighted by the daily Le Phare … all are realizing, once again, that as usual, [opposition party UDPS leader] Tshisekedi was right.

Endorsements by Religious Communities

Despite the trend towards candidates complaining about irregularities, religious institutions are officially backing the electoral process according to The Salon :

It seems as though the Catholic church has given a very cautious backing to the electoral process, thus making it the last religious community to do so. (…) The Catholic Church counts 50%+ of the Congolese population (the largest Catholic communty in Africa), thus making it one the most influential, and certainly the most organized institution in the country. Its backing of the process is therefore crucial to the credibility of the polls.
Earlier in the day the Islamic and Protestan communities, as well as the non-denominational Christian “awakening” churches had already given their approval, and called on all Congolese people to vote massively.


  • Dear Friend,

    We would like to invite you to our special coverage of Election in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Human Rights Watch has been documenting human rights abuses in Democratic Republic of Congo for number of years. Information can be found at http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=africa&c=congo

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    Human Rights Watch, Africa Division

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.

  • Elections in Congo

    Exciting blog coverage on the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After the governments of Mobutu and Laurent Desire Kabila in the 90s, how is the country faring and moving towards democracy? 30 or so candidates and a lot of skepticism marr …

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