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.


At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone answer the questions for which I have been seeking answers from a number of sources including CEI, MONUC, CIAT, Radio Okapi, NDI,etc, etc?

I was carrying a box of printer paper down to my office in January of this year when—out of the blue—I asked myself “what is CEI going to do with the ballots at the end of the Election Day? CEI claims that there are approximately 25 + million registered voters. Assume that each ballot is composed of two sheets of paper and assume that 50 % of the registered voters actually vote in the presidential elections that means there will be at least 25 million sheets of paper which must be read and carefully stored.

One ream of printing paper containing 500 sheets weighs 6 pounds.

Therefore there will be at least 25 million sheets of paper weighing 50,000 lbs that must be tallied and carefully stored.

When I thought about these numbers and the logistical issue I have been asking myself repeatedly (and CIAT, MONUC, CEI, NDI, Carter Center, Radio Okapi, etc etc by email) the following questions:

Why is it that CEI still does not seem to know the exact number of registered voters in the DRC? If CEI does know the exact number what is it?

How and where were the ballots going to be counted and would the electoral observers be watching over this process?

What will happen to the unused ballots?

Who safeguards the ballots and where will they be stored?

Will all the ballots for the presidential election be sent to Kinshasa for safe keeping while the Court settles all complaints?

If the ballots are sent to Kinshasa how will they get there and will they be accompanied by independent observers?

Once the ballots have been counted what happens to them? Where will they be stored and what safety precautions will be taken against mildew and what will be done to ensure that they are not eaten by rats, cockroaches, and other tropical insects that LOVE paper or destroyed by mildew,humidity, etc?

How long will the ballots be stored?

Are electoral observers following the ballots (used and unused) to the places where they will be securely stored?

TV5Monde showed how the ballots were being handled in one place in Kinshasa at the end of voting day and I was horrified. They treated them like trash, tossing them around and throwing them on the floor.

On NPR the other day Dr. Kashala explained that a woman holding a piece of paper came into his office in Kinshasa a couple of days after the elections. She told him that she found the paper lying on the street. It was a used presidential ballot voting for Dr. Kashala!!!

I am hoping that the FOTC electoral observers will be kind enough to address these questions.



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