Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kabila Strengthens Lead, Opposition Cries Fraud, Political Crisis Looms

With 65 percent of the vote counted Kabila leads Bemba in the quest for the presidency. Kabila has 60.67 percent of the vote and Bemba 39.33 percent with 112 of the country's 169 constituencies published by the Independent Electoral Commission. Turnout thus far is 67 percent.

Bemba's party and supporters have cried fraud. They maintain that based on the results that they collected at the polling stations there is no way that Kabila garnered the number of votes that is being reported by the CEI. Bemba's camp has already begun challenging the results. Those supporting Bemba are convinced that the international community will attempt to impose Kabila on the Congolese population at any cost. According to our sources in Kinshasa, it is widely believed that the votes in the east where Kabila gets overwhelming support are "cooked." Our sources clearly indicate that the center and west of the Congo will not accept the imposition of Kabila. Should this be true, the scope of the crisis facing Congo in the post vote count period may not solely be that of violent conflict between Kabila's and Bemba's forces but also a political crisis whereby the population will not see Kabila as their legitimate leader.

The dimension of what is transpiring in the Congo that most observers have yet to fully grasp is the political crisis that may take front stage. Most observers are focused on potential violent clashes between Kabila's and Bemba's security forces but the biggest challenge for Kabila and the international community maybe the flat rejection of a Kabila government by people in the center and west of the country, especially Kinshasa. As one of our sources note, the West is not aware of how Kabila is vehemently hated by the bulk of the Congolese population and will not submit to his leadership.

This morning some fighting broke out in Kinshasa, we will provide updates regularly to keep you abreast of not only what is appearing in the news but also provide dispatches and insights from the ground that may not be captured by reporters.


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