Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Observations From A Youth Leader In Kinshasa

In polling station number 10002 at the center Bokolo in the Bandalungwa commune a candidate running for the national legislature came into the polling station with ballots in his hands and the population took it as an attempt to cheat. The people snatched the bulletins from him and burnt them. President Kabila's security forces then came on the scene and started firing in the air, dispersed the crowd and arrested people. The police came late after the fracas. The official ballots in the polling station remain untouched.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Congo Elections Unfold Today

The elections began today on time for most of the nearly 64,000 polling stations. The voting has been an overwhelmingly peaceful undertaking. However, there are areas of disturbances, particularly in opposition strongholds. Join us on Twitter @congofriends for the latest updates.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Final Countdown To Congo's Elections

Dr. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja explores a wide range of issues in the lead up to the November 28 elections following his recent article in The Guardian, entitledCongo's Violent Election Countdown Reflects Rejection of Regime. During his interview with Friends of the Congo, Dr. Nzongola engages in a broad exchange that delves into the following issues:

  • A comparison of the 2011 elections with the 2006 polls
  • The idea of Congo as a failed state
  • Whether or not the Independent Electoral Commision (CENI) is independent
  • Who makes up the opposition and the formation of a unified front
  • The role of the international community in the elections
  • The role of Congo's neighbors
  • Who is Etienne Tshisekedi and from whence he draws his support
  • President Joseph Kabila's accomplishments or lack thereof
  • The implications of a one-round vote and the change in Congo's constitution
  • The Prospect of violence in the elections
  • Prospects for development of the Congo
  • The role of Congolese youth in the future of the country

Click here to listen to Dr Nzongola's interview with Kambale Musavuli, spokesperson of Friends of the Congo. Dr Nzongola is the author of "The Congo:From Leopold to Kabila - A People's History." He is as a professor of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Visit our website for an overview of the elections, latest news, blog updates, audio and video footage, reports from local and international NGOs, the candidates and their
platforms, background to the elections and key election related dates and events.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Elections in the Congo: Are We Headed For An Unmitigated Disaster

One thing that is clear regarding the November 28th elections in the Congo, is that the country is not prepared to hold the election on this date. Local and International NGOs have issued reports regarding the need to delay the elections so that they can be better organized. As late as a few days before the elections, word is still seeping out that the elections may be delayed or be spread over two days instead of one, however, the President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) remains resolute that there will be no delay and the elections will take place without a hitch on Monday, November 28th.

In spite of the logisitical nightmare that awaits Congolese voters on Monday, the most volatile charges have been made by the opposition political parties. They claim that the CENI has
instituted a lot of fictional polling stations. They claim that polling stations have been placed on the map in places that do not exist and in some cases have been even placed in the offices of political parties, should one go by the electoral maps published by the CENI. The opposition has demanded from the outset an audit of the polling stations. Although CENI has published an electoral map, an audit has not been done and it is too late to do so. Nonetheless, Radio Okapi, the United Nations funded radio station took it upon itself to investiagte some of the fictional polling stations that the oppositon parties have accused the CENI of having produced.

Based on a limited investigation, Radio Okapi has confirmed the nonexistence of several polling stations, 107 fictitious polling stations just in one commune (Selembao) of Kinshasa, which has 24 communes. Radio Okapi also discovered that a number of the addresses published on the CENI's map does not exist at all. In some instances, the locations listed on the CENI electoral map are inaccessible and in other centers the electoral lists are missing.

Much can be said about the upcoming elections but one thing is certain, all the ingredients are in place for a grand mess. One only hopes that the contestations that are certain to come do not descend into all out violence.

Click here to learn more about the elections!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Electoral Commission Says Logistics For the Elections Will be Completed by November 26th

Daniel Ngoy, President of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) affirmed that the 180,000 ballot boxes were almost all delivered to the 62,000 polling stations. In order to acclerate the process to have all the boxes and ballots delivered in advance of the elections, the CENI has rented 30 helicopters and a dozen air crafts. Angola has offered to provide support with helicopters as well.

The delivery of the 64 million ballots is the main concern for the CENI. South Africa is supposed to deliver the last shipment today. Once the shipment arrives from South Africa, the ballots will then have to be distributed throughout the country.

The President of the CENI has assured the Congolese people that all will be in place and ready to go by November 26th, two days before the polls open for voting on November 28th.

Click here to find out more about the elections!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Whither The Women of the Congo

Beyond any doubt the women of the Congo have been the primary victims of the instability and conflict that the country has experienced for the past 15 years. Congolese women have been striving to overcome remarkable hardships and tremendous suffering. Probably more than any sector of the Congolese society, the women seek fundamental a radical change. However, as we embark upon the November 28th elections, women appear to have been sidelined. Unlike 2006, no women are represented among the 11 candidates. Overall, there is a 20% drop in the participation of female candidates and a 12% drop in the female electorate.

Although, there has been a decrease in the participation of women in the elections, this does not mean that women are absent from the effort to assure a peaceful and fair election. On October 18th, the women of the Great Lakes Sub-Region issued a declaration that called for preventive diplomacy with the objective of realizing durable peace and security before, during and after the elections.

The women representing Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Congo called on the Congolese government to pay special attention to the role of women in the electoral process. Regarding the international community, they requested the establishment of an election monitoring system in the subregion as well as support for women in the electoral process.

Read more about elections!

Friday, November 18, 2011

UK MP Eric Joyce Says Congo Loses $5.5 Billion Due to Shady Deals

Bloomberg news has reported that Congolese President in cahoots with Israeli businessman Dan Gertler have fleeced the Congolese people of $5.5 billion.

“Elements of the DRC government, in particular the current president, Joseph Kabila, have sold vast mining assets at knock-down prices to various offshore ‘shell’ companies,” Joyce said,citing documents in his possession.

State-owned Congolese copper and cobalt miner Gecamines sold its 20 percent stake in Glencore-operated Mutanda Mining Sprl to Rowny Assets Ltd., an entity “associated” with Israeli mining investor Dan Gertler, according to Glencore’s May prospectus. Biko Invest Corp., another Gertler-linked entity, bought a quarter of neighboring Kansuki Sprl, it said.

Gecamines said it received $137 million for the two stakes, while Mutanda alone may be worth more than $800 million, according to calculations using a valuation conducted by consulting firm Golder Associates in Glencore’s prospectus.

Click here to read press release from British MP Eric Joyce!

Etienne Tshisekedi Shares His Platform

Leading opposition figure, Etienne Tshisekedi of the UDPS vowed that he would respect the election results or the will of the people provided that the process is free, transparent and equal.

He reiterated that the only way to ascend to power in the Congo is through elections. The democracy that he and his party have fought for over the last 30 years does not support another way of acquiring to power

Tshisekedi laid out his SEVEN point program as follows:
1. Free education for primary, secondary and university students
2. Free health care for citizens over the age of 50
3. Access to water and electricity
4. Building of roads
5. Relaunching of Agriculture
6. Tackle unemployment
7. Fight against corruption

Click here to read more about the elections.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Congo Elections: Voices of the People

Between scholars, artists, pastors and politicians who actually determines the leading power in the DRC? Pandisha bendera is a powerful reflection on the implications of clashing social factions in the process of negotiating 'democratic' elections...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Congolese Youth Speak Out on the Elections