Update December 13th 2011The Carter Centre has issued their report on the recent Congo elections:http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/drc-121011.html.
FreeFair DRC is increasingly dismayed at international silence regarding the flawed presidential election results in the DRC. The humanitarian situation in Kinshasa and other cities is deteriorating. Now the Carter Centre has joined a growing list of NGO’s and international observers, including FreeFairDRC, to raise serious concerns over the legitimacy of polling results in the DRC. Yesterday the world-renowned organisation released a report detailing why the Presidential election results lack credibility.
* The Carter Center found the provisional election results announced by the CENI on Friday to lack credibility. CENI results point to the re-election of incumbent President Joseph Kabila with 49% of the vote followed by Etienne Tshisekedi with 32%. Voter turnout was 58%.
* Carter Centre observers reported that the quality and integrity of the vote tabulation process varied across the country, including serious irregularities such as the loss of nearly 2,000 polling station results in Kinshasa.
* Based on detailed results released by CENI, it is evident that multiple locations, notably several Kantaga province constituencies reported impossibly high rates of 99 to 100% turnout with all, or nearly all votes going to incumbent president Joseph Kabila.
* The problems observed in the tabulation and announced results are compounded by inadequate access for observers and at multiple compilation centres around the country and no official access to the national results centre in Kinshasa. As a result the Carter Center is unable to provide independent verification of the accuracy of the overall results or the degree to which they reflect the will of the Congolese people.
* Challenges in the results process were further evident in the CENI delays in announcing the results first for two days after the original date, and then a second one-day delay to December 9th.
Please join FreeFairDRC in our call for international community to urge an end to violence and ensure that the election results reflect the will of the Congolese people. To see the full carter center report please follow this link http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/drc-121011.html.
Election Update from The FreeFair DRC Team As we eagerly await the delayed announcement of the results in these important elections in the DRC, we wanted to update you on what is happening there, and on our campaign for free and fair elections.
Election Day itself (28 November) was extended after many polling stations failed to open on time or to have the correct ballot papers. In the days following the election, we’ve reported on several discoveries of pre-marked ballot papers and of missing boxes.
The government shut down the SMS system on Sunday, meaning that independent election observers cannot submit their reports.
There are a heartbreaking number of reports of beatings, murders and attacks – many by the Presidential Guard or the National Police – on political operatives and ordinary voters. We have launched an election incident map to report what is going on; there is no excuse for election-related violence, and it’s important to hold those responsible to account.
On Sunday, we urged the CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission) to publish fully verified, complete results; our representative in Kinshasa noted that the time had come for the CENI to prove its integrity and transparency because anything less would lead to violence and bloodshed.
Cross-party supporters of our campaign wrote to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, on Monday, urging him to demand greater transparency from the CENI, and to call on all sides to work for peace (see below)..
The campaign also called on the Roman Catholic Church and other domestic observers within the DRC to publish their own observers’ results, in order to calm the tensions raised by the partial release of results by the CENI.
On Tuesday, the Chairman of the UK Human Rights Commission, Robert Buckland MP, also wrote to the Foreign Secretary, supporting this call and further urging him to demand that the DRC government restore SMS services in order that observers can submit their reports.
Also on Tuesday, Falling Whistles and FreeFair DRC launched a campaign to urge the DRC government to restore the SMS service.
We have also added our strong support to calls from Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, for the CENI to fulfil its legal obligation to publish the results by individual polling station; from Ben Affleck and Cindy McCain of the Eastern Congo Initiative for the international and domestic actors to come together to certify the results; and to those of respected political consultant Joe Trippi for Western governments to start holding the DRC government and institutions to account.
Our campaign, unfortunately, continues. Once again, we are waiting for the CENI to announce the results today. We continue to urge the security forces and all political candidates and supporters to show restraint; the CENI to publish, transparently, all results; and the international community to demonstrate to the Congolese people that we care about them and their democracy.
The FreeFair DRC Team
UPDATE ON THE GREAT LAKES: 8th December 2011 (published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa)Special DRC Elections
National Electoral Commission delays announcement of provisional resultsThe Commission had been due to declare the complete provisional results on Tuesday 6th December, but decided a 48-hour delay owing to the fact that all official tally sheets from polling stations had not been received yet.
Both the PPRD, the majority party, and the UDPS, its main challenger, have welcomed the delay. “We think the international community has taken hold of the situation and started to push for more transparency, a minimum of credibility” has declared the UDPS spokesperson.
The last partial results that were released on 6th December covered over 89% of the polling stations. They showed incumbent President Kabila leading its challenger Etienne Tshisekedi by 14 points, and were fervently rejected by the opposition.
Election observation missions report voting irregularitiesOn 1st December, the EU electoral observation mission said it had found numerous irregularities, sometimes serious ones, in 79% of the polling centres where its observers had been deployed. These included attempted ballot box stuffing, unsealed ballot boxes, undelivered election materials and voters being turned away from polling stations. The mission also mentioned human rights violations committed during the election campaign. However, the representatives from the mission stated that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions about the validity of the electoral process.
The Carter Centre released a preliminary statement on 30th November. The Centre commended the electoral commission for the organisation of the elections, but noted practical problems and irregularities in 49% of the 300 polling centres where its observers were deployed (article).
The AETA-EurAc mission, in which participated two APPG Great Lakes Members, Ian Lucas MP – Shadow Minister for Africa – and Lord McConnell, has also released a preliminary statement (attached herewith) on the 1st of December, pointing out technical and logistical hurdles as well as irregularities.
Opposition members call for the annulment of the election results
On 3rd December, three opposition candidates in the presidential elections – Kengo wa Dondo, Mbusa Nyamwisi and Adam Bombole – called for the election results to be annulled due to allegations of voting irregularities. Etienne Tshisekedi did not support these calls, while Vital Kamerhe retracted his initial participation in the statement.
Both the African Union and the European Union responded by calling on all candidates to accept the election results.
Human Rights Watch accuses presidential guards of shooting protestors
On 2nd December, Human Rights Watch issued a report stating that at least 18 people had been killed in pre-election violence. Most of these killings have allegedly occurred when presidential guards tried to break up an opposition protest in Kinshasa on 26th November.
After firstly rejecting these claims, the DRC’s government has opened an investigation into the crimes documented (article).
In a statement released on 2nd December, the UN Security Council has urged all candidates to contribute to ensuring peaceful elections and has condemned eruptions of violence (article).
DRC’s government ready to call in the army
Fears of widespread violence have led to the imposition of more stringent security measures: a curfew was imposed in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of opposition stronghold Kasai Oriental province, presidential guards were deployed in Lubumbashi, while text services were suspended in Kinshasa. Over 3,000 Congolese were also reported to have fled to neighbouring Brazzaville over fears of post-election violence.
H.E. Kikaya Bin Karubi, Congo’s Ambassador to the UK, has declared on the 5th December that should the situation become “too chaotic for the police, [the government] will definitely call for the army to come and help.”
On 6th December, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo warned elections stakeholders that they were being examined closely and that recourse to violence would not be tolerated. “As we have shown in both Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire, planning and executing attacks on civilians for electoral gain will not be tolerated,” he added (article ).
Unrest spreads to diaspora communities
In Brussels, police used water cannon to break up a crowd of opposition supporters on Monday the 5th. Protest was also reported outside Congolese embassies in South Africa, France. In London, about 300 protesters accusing Western countries of backing Kabila clashed with police in front of Downing Street on Tuesday.
Following my visit to the DRC, I fully support FreeFairDRC and their calls to the international community to condemn the violence and electoral fraud happening in the DRC ahead of the results being released later today. It is vital that international organisations and governments do all they can to ensure transparency around the election results, and prevent yet more violence on the streets of Kinshasa and other cities.
The DRC is a country of enormous potential and last Monday’s elections marked a rare opportunity to change the tide in the country. Unless the elections are believed to have been handled transparently, the DRC is likely to be thrown back into yet more violence and potentially civil war. This is the last chance for the international community to ensure that the results are a true reflection of the will of the Congolese people.
Dear Foreign Secretary,
Re:Urgent situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo
We are writing to you to express our deep concern at the mounting instability in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, following the Presidential elections on Monday 28th November 2011.
As you will be aware, scores of Congolese civilians have already been killed in election-‐related
violence, including by the Presidential Guard.
There have also been verified reports of fraud and logistical breakdown.
A preliminary, unverified and partial release of the result has done nothing whatsoever to defuse panic.
We support the United Kingdom’s commitment to helping the people of the DRC, which was recently ranked
the least developed country in the world, and the second worst place to live as a woman.
With UK taxpayers set to spend almost £800 million in aid to the DRC over the course of this Parliament,
we see this election as essential to ensuring the money is spent appropriately on building infrastructure
and furthering development.
In order to curtail the risk of greater bloodshed, we are asking you to condemn violence and demand greater transparency from the Congolese election commission (CENI), ahead of tonight’s final declaration.
As tensions mount, some thousands of people are fleeing across the border into neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville, fearing intensification of post-‐election violence or even a reversion to civil war, once
the final result is announced. This heightens the risk of destabilization in Central Africa –
a region of critical importance to global security. Timing matters. We should try to reduce the risks of
high loss of life. As Foreign Secretary, we have confidence that you will send a clear message now that the UK urges greater transparency from the Congolese authorities, and calls on all sides to diffuse violence.
• Fiona Bruce MP,
(Conservative Party Human Rights Commissioner)
• Lord (David) Alton,
Independent Crossbench Peer(Expert in Human Rights in developing countries)
• Martin Horwood MP,Liberal Democrat,
(Chair of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary committee on international affairs)
• Sir Peter Bottomley MP,Conservative,
(Chairman, All-‐Party United Nations Group)
• Don Foster MP,Liberal Democrat,
(visited DRC with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy earlier this autumn).