Peaceful March Violently Repressed by Police, Carter Center Issues Election Update
On July 11, 2006 a peaceful march organized by the 19 presidential candidates calling for a cessation of the elections and allies of Etienne Tshisekedi's the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS)was violently suppressed by the Congolese police. The group of 19 presidential candidates has called for the cessation of the elections due to the printing of 5 million additional ballots and other irregularities.
Two people were injured, one of them a member of parliament Mr. Franck Diongo who is currently in intensive care. The police said they cracked down on the marchers because the march was not authorized. The organizers vehemently reject the police's position, noting that the governor's office of Kinshasa was duly noted of the march's itinerary in advance.
The march and subsequent crackdown, reflects an increasingly tense environment in the Congo, which will in all likelihood become worse leading up to the elections.
The Carter Center's recent report reinforces the sense of a tense environment. In addition, what is resoundingly clear from the Carter Center report, is that the Congo is not ready for elections. The elections appear to be rushed and the playing field is tipped in favor of the government who has been able to use the state resources to undertake its campaign efforts. Click here to read the Carter Center report!.
A rushed and flawed election, in the end will be worse than a delayed election. The CIAT and other members of the international community should take heed to the deficiencies in the organizing of the elections pointed out by the Carter Center. Almost all of what the Carter Center highlighted, have been raised by numerous Congolese observers and activists. The Congo deserves free and transparent elections, not something half-baked that will reinforce the status quo under which far too many Congolese have suffered.