Thursday, August 31, 2006

Truth Behind the Conflict Begins to Unfold

As Friends of the Congo reported in previous dispatches, reliable sources in Kinshasa had shared with us that on the Friday before the election results were announced, William Swing, the head of the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC) and the Committee to Assist the Transition (CIAT), told Kabila he did not win the elections in the first round.

The plan was to have Kabila pass in the first round, however, the political opposition launched a last-minute campaign they called "Tout Sauf Kabila (TSK)" or anyone but Kabila. It is not so much that this campaign generated the necessary votes to prevent Kabila from obtaining a majority but rather it was the pressure that the campaign put on CIAT and the CEI making it clear that if Kabila won in the first round there would be widespread violence and the country would become ungovernable.

Kabila, to say the least was upset that he did not get the presidency in the first round. This triggered a number of events that few paid attention to and now is being reported by some newspapers. It went almost entirely unnoticed but the BBC reported that Kabila went on state television on the Sunday night that the election results were announced and said that he had won "a great victory."

La Libre Belgique (FRENCH), recently reported that Kabila's presidential guard unleashed rounds of gunfire from 6 pm to 11 pm on Sunday, August 20, 2006, all in an attempt to prevent the Electoral Commission from announcing results which Kabila knew in advance. The United Nations had to bring in 15 tanks to escort the president of the Electoral Commission, Malu Malu, to the television station so he could announce the results.

La Libre Belgique continued in its report to state that when Kabila's presidential guard fired on Bemba's house on the 21st of August, they knew in advance that Bemba would be meeting with foreign ambassadors and representatives of the security council.

The question that begs a clear response, is why the silence from the international community? Why is it that the United Nations, European Union or the United States have remained silent when their ambassadors and diplomats sustained heavy artillery fire for five hours? Moreover, why did Jean Pierre Bemba have to be put under United Nations protection? As reporters delve further into these questions the obvious answers will reveal themselves.

Representatives of Bemba and Kabila continue to negotiate a detente and a path to the second round of elections scheduled for October 29, 2006. Some of the conditions presented by both camps are quite revealing. Bemba would like his helicopter that was blown up by Kabila's presidential guard replaced. He also requested that his television stations that were illegal closed by Kabila be reopened. Finally, he requested that any meeting that occurs between the two men occur in neutral territory.

Kabila's requests were quite intriguing, first he requested that any meeting that occurs with Bemba, takes place at the president's office. In addition, he requested that the October 29th date scheduled for the second round be moved up sooner, presumably this would favor his campaign.

The situation is still very uncertain in the country. Arms shipment are coming into the country both for Kabila's presidential guard and Bemba's rebel forces. The CEI does not yet have the $46 million needed to fund a second round of elections. Again, there was no plan to have a second round. The entire organizing of the elections were meant to pass Kabila in the first round. Before the voting, Malu Malu pleaded with the Congolese people to be wise and mature and elect a president in the first round. The people were more wise and mature than Malu Malu gave them credit.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fragile Calm in Kinshasa

Another day of calm has passed in Kinshasa but below the surface tensions are still high. Diplomats continue to work to bring Kabila and Bemba together to diffuse the tension. Kabila called for a meeting of the four vice-presidents on Saturday but Bemba did not show. His people said that they were not aware of a meeting. Diplomats see this as a sign that progress is not being made on bringing the two sides to the table to diffuse the tensions diplomatically.

It appears that Kabila does not want to meet with Bemba one-on-one. Bemba said he would meet with Kabila only after certain conditions are met, for example the meeting would have to take place under United Nations supervision. Both sides are holding to their incendiary language and seem to be preparing more for war than a second round of elections, which is scheduled for October 29, 2006.

The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) began posting the results of the legislative races. The CEI expects to have complete national results posted by September 4th. Almost 10,000 individuals nationwide ran for 500 parliamentary seats. According to the constitution, parliament chooses the Prime Minister.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kabila and Bemba Still Have not met to Squash Their Beef

Diplomats continue to put pressure on Kabila and Bemba to meet to sign the accord that was agreed upon this past Tuesday. The two men refuse to meet. It appears that the only way the situation is going to be resolved is if both men are disarmed of their security forces. Kabila has anywhere from 10,000 - 16,000 security forces backed by Angola and Jean Pierre Bemba 2,000 - 5,000 backed by Uganda. Neither of these two elements have been integrated into the national army as was called for by the mandate of the inter-Congolese dialogue of 2002 in Sun City, South Africa.

We must be honest, both men did not get where they are through political acumen. They are at the precipice of leading the Congo by virtue of force and killing of fellow Congolese. The brute force they demonstrated got them the presidency in the case of Kabila and the vice-presidency in the case of Bemba. The international community gave precedence and respect to the men with guns. Van Clauswitz says "War is the continuation of politics by other means," in the Congo politics is the continuation of war by the same means, i.e. brute force and intimidation through weapons.

It is the most bitter of ironies for the Congolese people who went to the ballot box to stop the violence and bring about stability. Unfortunately, the peace and stability that the Congolese people voted for has yet to arrive. As Friends of the Congo has stated on several occasions, the electoral process was not designed to produce peace, consensus or stability. The Congolese people sorely desire peace and demonstrated as much during the referendum on a new constitution in December of 2005 (They voted overwhelmingly for the ratification of the constitution, even though they had not read it. They did this because they felt it would bring about change in leadership, peace and stability).

The blame for the current crisis lays squarely in the lap of Jean Pierre Bemba and Joseph Kabila who are holding the Congolese people hostage. However, the international community is also reaping some of the fruit it has sown. During the organizing of the elections, the International Committee to Assist the Transition (CIAT) gave little credence to the need for dialogue and a buy in to the process by all parties. Many people feel the elections were rushed and the necessary foundation was not set for a legitimate ballot that would be respected by all parties involved. In fact, the CIAT and the Independent electoral Commission (CEI), set-up an electoral process that side-lined the non-violent pro-democratic forces and favored the violent forces. From the $50,000 non-refundable deposit to the 30-day campaign period, almost everything favored those with guns and money.

Well after it was far too late, the international community organized the group of the wise, although made up of respected men with good intentions, it was laughable at best. The group of the wise should have been organized well in advance of the elections in concert with Congolese political leaders, not something parachuted in to give legitimacy to what was widely expected to be a Kabila crowning. Of course this group is bound to be looked upon with scorn and not respected by anyone.

The second round of voting is expected to occur but under what conditions and will it simply be a prelude to more war? The window of opportunity for dialogue and national consensus has passed, the Congolese people who have suffered for so long have spoken but in the end they may wind up losing once again.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Truce Holds, Kinshasa Calm

The Congo's capital is relatively calm under the patrol of United Nations and European troops. The Congolese troops have been ordered back to their barracks. The violence that flared up between the Kabila and Bemba camps has subsided since a cease-fire agreement brokered by MONUC on Tuesday. Although a truce is in place, Jean Pierre Bemba remains under United Nations protection.

Businesses have reopened and the people of Kinshasa are back on the streets. It is not entirely clear who initiated the conflict. Nonetheless, what has been demonstrated over the past few days is the SHARP difference between the Congolese people and the so-called leaders who have held an entire population hostage to violence and depredation. Congo deserves better!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cease Fire Agreement Reached

The Kabila government and Bemba rebel forces have agreed to a cease fire. The cease fire was brokered by the United Nations. It was a strange cease fire due to the fact that it was achieved without the presence of Jean Pierre Bemba. The United Nations met with the Kabila government in order to establish a cease fire. According to the New York Times, "Mr. Bemba’s military commanders were invited to a meeting later to iron out cease-fire details."

Although the conflict has been presented as an exchange between two factions, the more one delves into the details, the more credence is given to Bemba's claim that it was an all-out attempt on his life. Almost all the fighting took place in Bemba's neighborhood. His house was set ablaze and his helicopter destroyed. In addition, both he and the foreign diplomats with whom he was meeting on Monday sustained heavy artillery fire. The causus belli offered by the government was that Bemba's security forces kidnapped government forces, for what purpose no one knows.

The conflict resulted in deaths of 15 people. The United Nations issued a statement saying “It is imperative that the confrontations cease immediately and that the two candidates for the presidential election meet urgently for the good of the democratic process.”

Fighting Continues

According to the Friends of the Congo sources from Kinshasa, fighting continues in the nation's capital. The streets are empty, shops are closed and people are remaining inside for fear of being hit by stray bullets.

Kabila's Special Presidential Security Guard or GSSP in French is still fighting against Jean Pierre Bemba's security forces. On yesterday, Jean Pierre Bemba's house sustained missile, gun and canon fire. To the surprise of many observers, this took place while Bemba was meeting with William Swing, head of MONUC and CIAT, and foreign diplomats who make up the CIAT. The United Nations troops rescued William Swing and the diplomats from Bemba's house. The latest information that we have is that Bemba is under United Nations protection as he was evacuated with William Swing and the foreign diplomats on Monday.

The Kabila government claims that it is trying to disarm Bemba's security forces while Bemba's representatives say, Kabila is trying to assassinate Bemba. Diplomats are working feverishly to bring about a cease fire and get the two sides to talk. William Swing has called for the immediate end of clashes and a respect for the democratic process.

The European Union's rapid reaction force summoned 200 more German and Dutch soldiers from nearby Gabon where there are 1,000 EU troops in addition to the 1,000 that is already in the Congo along with 17,000 United Nations troops.

The latest update from Kinshasa indicates that things are much calmer in the evening but the climate is still tense.

The past few weeks clearly demonstrate the difference between the Congolese masses, who voted in peace and dignity and violent rebel leaders, including the government that continue to hold the Congolese people hostage to a climate of terror and conflict. Yet, these are the leaders that some European leaders and heads of multi-national corporations say represent the hope and future of the Congo.

Congolese are tired of the suffering and abject poverty to which they have been subjected. They are determined to extricate themselves from the cabal of thugs masquerading as political leaders backed by foreign corporate and government powers.

Ata Ndele, the people will prevail.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Heavy Gunfire in Kinshasa: Jean Pierre Bemba's House in Flames and Surrounded by the GSSP

Friends of the Congo sources on the ground have reported that there is heavy gunfire in the Congo's capital, Kinshasa. It is believed that Jean Pierre Bemba's headquarters is under attack by Joseph Kabila's Special Presidential Security Guard or GSSP in French.

The Kabila camp was fully expecting to carry the elections in the first round. Although, Kabila made a conciliatory broadcast on Sunday night, it is well known that his camp is extraordinarily disgruntled by the fact that there has to be a second round.

Reuters reported that according to a United Nations source the entire CIAT (foreign donors' group) is in Bemba's house having a meeting with him. Yet, Kabila's forces are launching heavy artillery at the house. BBC reports that both the head of the United Kingdom Envoy and the head of the UN Mission is trapped by gunfire.

Friends of Congo sources say the CIAT diplomats were at Bemba's house to investigate the shooting from the previous night and got caught in an attack by Kabila's Special Presidential Security Guard. Bemba's helicopter and house are in flames and his office is surrounded by Kabila's heavily armed GSSP.

We are all hopeful that calmer minds will prevail and the government will call off its fighters.

CEI Releases National Preliminary Results

The Independent Electoral Commission released the preliminary report last night on the July 30, 2006 election results. Before the announcement, skirmishes took place between Jean Pierre Bemba's security forces and Joseph Kabila's presidential guards. Three people were reported killed in the gunfire exchange and a number of others injured. The situation is not expected to worsen or break out into widespread conflict.

A run-off election will take place between Joseph Kabila and Jean Pierre Bemba. The numbers released by the CEI are as follows:

Registered Voters: 25,420,199
Those Who Voted: 17,931,238
Turnout Rate: 70.5%

Main Candidate Results:
Jean-Pierre BEMBA GOMBO 20%
Antoine GIZENGA 13%
Nzanga Joseph-Francois MOBUTU 4.7%

Because no one candidate received a majority of the votes, a run-off election will take place. The run-off is scheduled for October 29, 2006, however according to Article 71 of the Congolese constitution, the run-off is supposed to take place two weeks after the official announcement of the results. The official results are to be announced by the Supreme Court on August 31, 2006. Candidates have three days to lodge their complaints to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is to render its verdict regarding the complaints within 7 days and announce the official results by the August 31st.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Run-off a Certainty

According to reports from media documenting the results in the Congo, the run-off is a certainty. Although, the official results have not been released, media agencies are reporting that with 168 of the 169 constituencies reporting, Kabila has 45% of the votes, short of the majority that he needed to take the elections in the first round. Bemba is second to Kabila with over 20% of the votes and long-time Lumumbist Antoine Gizenga is in third place with 13% of the votes.

The run-off elections is scheduled for October 29, 2006. The Congolese people, led by the opposition forces ought to be congratulated for their yeoman's work in making clear to the international community that the installation of Kabila in the first round would be roundly rejected by any means necessary.

A second round provides the Congolese with an opportunity to make sure that the process is transparent and fair unlike the first round. Many opposition forces believe that the "books were cooked" but because of the pressure from the Congolese population, the presidency could not be given to Kabila in the first round. Many Congolese believe that if the process is relatively fair and transparent, the Congolese people will win.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Swing Delivers Bad News to Kabila

Reliable sources have shared with the Friends of the Congo that on Friday, August 18, 2006, William Swing, head of MONUC and CIAT related to Kabila that he will have to vie for the presidency in a second round. The CEI has not announced the final results as yet, however unless something extraordinary happens, it seems very likely that there will be a second round.

Agence France Press is reporting that with 72 percent of the votes counted, Kabila has 47% and Bemba 18.9%. They are followed by Antoine Gizenga in third place with 10.7%; Nzanga Mobutu, the son of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko garnered 5.4% and Oscar Kashala 2.9%.

The final preliminary results are expected within the next 24 hours. Should there in fact be a second round, the elections are scheduled to take place on October 29, 2006.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Operation Passage A Force

The international community is in a fix in the Congo. Although they would like to install Kabila as president in the first round, they have to weigh this "Passage A Force" or installation by force, against the reaction of the people. Most signs are that they are preparing to install Kabila by any means necessary:
1. Movement of Angolan troops to the border of the Congo (Kabila's special guards are primarily Angolan security forces)
2. MONUC heightened alert
3. The European troops installation in the two Kasais and Kinshasa - these are areas where most resistance to a Kabila installation is expected
4. The repeated calls for calm from all corners from the French ambassador to the so-called Committee of the Wise

The above are key signs that the international community looks to install Kabila by force. The major calculation they are in the process of making or have already made is whether or not the resistance to Kabila will spiral the country into war once again or whether the security forces (Congolese and international) will simply have to do police work to put down disgruntled Congolese activists.

It is clear that the International community does not want to risk a second round, which would reduce the chances of the elections being fixed and put a Kabila presidency in jeopardy. Whatever is decided, we will know in less than 48 hours. Unfortunately, as has been the case in the Congo for over a century, the role of the international community will in all likelihood be decisive. When this occurs the Congolese people wind up losing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kinshasa Vote May Lead to Run-Off

As the votes finally come in from Kinshasa, it appears that a run-off may occur in the Congo. With one of four districts reporting from Kinshasa, Kabila's lead has slipped below 50 percent to 48.6 percent and Bemba remains around 16 percent.

Each district that reports from Kinshasa will surely reduce Kabila's percentage and bring him further away from the 50 percent needed to claim the elections in the first round. Thus far a little over 13 million or 52% of the votes have been counted. Kinshasa accounts for 12 percent of the total registered voters of 25 million. Many experts believe that 80 percent of Kinshasa voters turned out.

Should these results hold, a second round will certainly occur which would mean that the pro-democracy forces initiative of the "Tous-Sauf-Kabila" in English "Anyone-but-Kabila," campaign would have succeeded to date.

Almost, all observers would agree that a second round would work in the best interest of the Congolese people and lend far more credibility to the process. Should there be a second round, it would occur on October 29, 2006, according to the latest schedule by the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kabila Maintains Lead - Angola Move Troops

Kabila maintains his enormous lead and remains comfortably above 50 percent. With 82 of the 169 counting centers reporting, Kabila has 54.9% of the votes while Jean Pierre Bemba has 16.7%. The votes for Kinshasa which accounts for 12% of the electorate have yet to be reported. Many candidates and activists believe the Kinshasa votes in particular are being manipulated to assure that Kabila gets through in the first round.

The president of the Electoral Commission, Malu Malu maintains that the final results will be announced on or before Sunday, August 20th. He says 93.4 percent of the presidential votes and 44.6 percent of the legislative votes have been counted.

Friends of the Congo has maintained that the aim of the Independent Electoral Commission and the international community has been to maintain Kabila in power by any means using the elections as a cover to do so. The movement of the Angolan troops to the border of the Congo, coupled with the European troops concentrating in Kinshasa and the Kasai provinces are clear signs that the international community and Congo's neighbors are prepared to install Kabila by force. They know that the pro-democracy forces in the Congo who fought against Mobutu, Kabila's father and now Kabila the son, will not quietly accept his installation.

Below are results to date of voting for the candidates:

KABILA KABANGE Joseph 3 743 573
BEMBA GOMBO Jean Pierre 1 136 905
MOBUTU NZANGA NGBANGAWE François Joseph 246 063
GIZENGA Antoine 183 785
PAY PAY wa SYAKASSIGHE Pierre 175 785
LUNDA BULULU Vincent de Paul 170 465
RUBERWA MANYWA Azanias 135 975
M'POYO KASA-VUBU Justine 61 014
MBUSA NYAMWISI Antipas 56 178
N'LANDU KAVIDI Wivine 43 505
NGOMA Z'AHIDI Arthur 41 789
DIOMI NDONGALA Eugène 40 069
LUMUMBA Guy Patrice 38 303
KABATU SUILA Bernard Emmanuel 37 588
NZUZI WA MBOMBO Catherine Marthe 34 153
LUMBALA Roger 31 462
NIEMBA SOUGA Jacob 27 642
MBOSO N'KODIA PWANGA Christophe 23 677
NLANDU MPOLO NENE Marie Thérèse 22 758
MOKONDA BONZA Florentin 22 045
LIKULIA BOLONGO Norbert 12 347
MOLEKA NZULAMA Timothée 8 678

TOTAL 6 806 899

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Kabila Maintains Lead

With almost half of the votes in Kabila remains above 50 percent at 53.3% while his closest follower Jean Pierre Bemba is at 17.5%. Votes from 78 of 169 constituencies have been counted. Even though votes from Kinshasa were promised last Friday, results have yet to be released. On Monday, the CEI issued a release to political parties and candidates indicating that they have 48 hours to contest results from polling stations.

The big challenge for the CEI and the international community remains how they can make Kabila win in the first round. It is almost impossible for him to win fairly in the first round but you can rest assured that there is a lot of behind the scenes efforts to make sure this happens.

Our readers are asking some simple questions regarding the balloting but answers are fleeting because the electoral process in the Congo is anything but free, fair and transparent. It was orchestrated from the outset to produce a desired result - the maintenance of Kabila in power. Let us see if the result will be achieved. The first announcement of the final results is still expected on this coming Sunday, August 20, 2006.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Kabila's Lead Slips

As the count continues to unfold in the Congo, Kabila's lead wavers. Very reliable sources in the Congo share with Friends of the Congo that the central challenge for the independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and the Committee to Accompany the Transition (CIAT) is how to make Kabila the winner in the first round. It is believed that the international community does not want to expend the $26 million that it would take to organize a second round of voting. One may ask, why doesn't the Congo pay for the second round? Unfortunately, much of the government's money has been used by those who had access to the state trough to run their election campaigns. It is estimated that Kabila spent $63 million on his campaign.

Even as we watch these numbers unfold each day the real deal is what is taking place behind the scenes. There are a few structural issues preventing the vote from being fixed so that Kabila wins in the first round. Although, Kabila has been given incredibly large margins in the east of the country, the eastern provinces do not account for more than 46 percent of the total voting population, therefore even if he were to receive 100 percent of the votes from the eastern provinces, he would not have enough to exceed 50 percent and win in the first round.

Thus far, with 4.7 million of about 20 million votes counted, Kabila has 51 percent and Jean Pierre Bemba 19 percent. Kinshasa which accounts for about 12 percent of the electorate has yet to be counted. Kinshasa is widely expected to break in favor of Bemba.

Although the final results are to be released on the 20th, by the middle of the week, we should know whether or not a second round will occur or whether Kabila will win in the first round.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Results Still Show Kabila in the Lead, Moving Beyond the 50% Mark

The latest results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) still shows Kabila in the lead moving beyond the 50 percent mark need to win in the first round. With almost 20 percent of the votes in, Kabila is at 55 percent and Bemba 18 percent. They are followed by Pierre Pay-Pay, former governor of the Central Bank, with 2 percent and Harvard-trained Doctor, Oscar Kashala also with 2 percent

The results are based on 47 of the 169 counting centers reporting. Although the CEI promised results for Kinshasa on Friday the 11th, no figures have been released. Kinshasa is expected to be strongly in the favor of Jean Pierre Bemba; with its population of 8 million inhabitants, it represents 12 percent of all registered voters.

It still remains both fascinating and puzzling that almost all the international observers have left the Congo, yet NONE of the European forces has left. Observers who are still in the Congo, complain about being blocked from entering the counting stations in the east - areas where Kabila is scoring 85 - 90 percent. Does this seem strange or unusual to anyone? The observers came, they witnessed a vote and then they left. What about the counting of the votes? Those votes that are being dumped en mass, burned and are not adding up?

Imagine if Jean Pierre Bemba, another strongman who has his own military, has had access to the state coffers and owns his own media, was not in the race? The organizing of the so-called free, fair and transparent elections would have been even more farcical than it is now. Outside of the two strongmen (Kabila and Bemba), none of the 33 candidates is registering more than 2 percent. So let's see in a country of 60 million people,only two strongmen are capable of obtaining substantive support from the populace?

The organizing of the elections were structurally flawed because they were organized to legitimize Kabila's rule not to bring democracy to the Congo. The pro-democracy forces in the Congo are doing a yeoman's job to counter the international community's latest attempt to control the riches of the Congo and impose a leader who serves foreign interests not the interests of the Congolese people.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poll Results Continue to Trickle Out

Early poll results have Kabila leading. The latest report gives Kabila 46 percent and Bemba 24 percent. The results are draw from 25 of the 169 counting centers where the results are being posted. The 25 account for 15 percent of the total voting centers reporting. Centers reporting are evenly split between the east and the west, about half of the 25 comes from the east and the other half form the west with a couple in the center of the country.

The east-west divide that the media and many analysts are proffering are questionable at best. People in the west of the country do not dislike Kabila because he does not speak Lingala. True, they believe he is a foreigner but probably more substantive is that they believe Kabila has sold the country's wealth to the West while pocketing monies for himself. They also see him as a tool of the west who has dictatorial designs. People in kinshasa, especially believe that if the West is able to put him in power, he will solidify a dictatorial regime.

There is still a long way to go. We will provide daily updates as the results come out. Should you read French, you can follow the updates directly from the Independent Electoral Commission's website.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Counting of Ballots Remain Problematic

Today the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) released results from 8 of 169 constituencies. Interestingly enough, the CEI began the releases in the east of the country where incumbent president Joseph Kabila performed best. Kabila is well ahead in the 8 constituencies reported, garnering as high as 85 percent of the votes in some cities.

International observers continue to report irregularities in the counting. Vote counting has been chaotic, ballots in two vote centers in Kinshasa have been destroyed by fire. In addition, observers have been blocked from entering vote centers to verify the counting. The European Observer mission said "The process is lacking checks and balances of transparency,"

Tense days are ahead as there is deep skepticism in Kinshasa where opponents to Kabila firmly believe that the international community will stop at nothing to install Kabila for another five years, even it means fixing the results.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Uranium Makes Self-Determination Questionable at Best

The London Times reported that in October of 2005 Iran attempted to import Uranium 238 from the Congo. Tanzanian port inspectors found the uranium among coltan that was being shipped to Iran. Iran rejected the report and called it "utterly untrue" and part of a psychological warfare by the West.

In spite of whether the reports are true or not, the whole affair re-affirms Congo's geo-strategic importance to the West. This does not bode well for the Congolese because if they can count on nothing else, they can count on the West attempting to determine who will rule the Congo just as they did for almost four decades when they assassinated Patrice Lumumba and installed the brutal dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The pre-text of course will be to keep strategic minerals such as uranium from terrorists and terrorist states. When the security interests of the West are at stake, it usually means the wellbeing of non-western people are subordinated to these interests and the resultant effect is more suffering for a beleaguered people.

The challenge of the Congo is particularly acute today. Congolese leaders must organize themselves to defend the interests of their people and people of goodwill throughout the globe must work with Congolese to stave off foreign intervention in the Congo.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) to Start Publishing Results on August 7, 2006

Do to growing unrest and speculation, it appears that the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) will start publishing results from polling stations as soon as they come in. Sisa Ngombane, South African Ambassador to the DRC suggested that the CEI take the initiative and start publishing the results as opposed to waiting until the 20th of August.

The BBC reported today that there is increasing irregularities in the counting of the votes. Human Rights watch said "foreign observers' work in the eastern region of Ituri was being severely restricted." Also, in other parts of the East according to Human rights Watch large number of ballots are being dumped and in Kinshasa reporters have observed a substantial number of ballots being burned. The Carter Center said that each day new irregularities are being reported and each new report "chips away" at the integrity of the voting process.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Early Results: Sun City by Other Means

The Friends of the Congo delegation is still in the Congo. Polling stations have begun to post results. However, official results are not due until the end of August. Many people were pleased with the relatively peaceful elections. One thing is resoundingly clear, the Congolese want change and an end to the insufferable war.

Unfortunately, the spirit and hope of the Congolese community were not matched by the Congolese leadership and for that matter the leadership of the international community. The elections were structurally flawed from the outset, mainly because the West and corporate powers did their best to tilt the system to favor Kabila and the rebels (See Paule Bouvier and Pierre Englebert article in Foreign Policy for a detailed account of how this was done).

Nonetheless, early results indicate that Bemba and Kabila may be in the October 29 runoff. For all intents and purposes, this is Sun City redux. At Sun City, South Africa during the Inter-Congoelse Dialogue, Europe led by Louis Michel and the United States supported the abortion of the process in a deal where Kabila and Bemba would share power in Kinshasa. A group of democrats lead by Etienne Tshisekedi stood up and said no. They fought this attempt to steal the prospect of peace from the Congolese people. In the end, it appears Louis Michel and the rest of the international community may in fact get their way. The Kabila, Bemba result may be the most palatable result for the Congolese people to maintain peace. Should Kabila outright win in the first round, the country "will go up in flames" said presidential candidate Oscar Kashala. With a Bemba, Kabila runoff, chances are the opposition forces will either rally behind Bemba to bring the Kabila regime to an end or outright protest the results.

According to, some early results are as follows:
Jean-Pierre Bemba leads with 60 à 80% of the votes followed by Joseph Kabila. Oscar Kashala et Eugène Diomi Ndongala are also well placed. Antoine Gizenga also did well in certain areas of the city.

Jean-Pierre Bemba arrive is in the lead, especially in urban areas. In the rural areas Joseph Kabila has a slight lead.

Antoine Gizenga is in the lead followed by Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Nzanga Mobutu leads in Equateur, followed by Jean-Bemba and Joseph Kabila.

Kasaï occidental and Oriental
Oscar Kashala is slightly ahead of Jean-Pierre Bemba in the grand Kasaï. Results are still due in because voting was disrupted in Mbuji-Mayi.

Joseph Kabila is in the lead in Katanga with about 60% of the vote from Lubumbashi and a little better in rural areas.

South-Kivu, Maniema et North-Kivu
Joseph Kabila has a large lead in the Kivus with 70 to 90% of the votes.

Province Orientale
Joseph Kabila appears to be in the lead in this province.