by Ann Garrison
AfrobeatRadio News, Dec. 12, 2011
AfrobeatRadio/Ann Garrison: The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in political crisis. After an obviously unfair, fraudulent and violent election, the National Electoral Commission, which was stacked with supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila, has announced that Kabila is the winner, with 49 percent of the vote. The commission says that his leading challenger, Étienne Tshisekedi, has won only 32 percent, but Tshisekedi has rejected the results and declared that he now considers himself the nation’s president. The other prominent candidate, Vital Kamerhe, agrees.
Yesterday the London Guardian reported police firing tear gas to break up angry demonstrations, plumes of smoke from tires burning outside vote counting centers, and a huge government security operation putting Tshisekedi strongholds under lockdown in Kinshasa, the country’s capital and largest city. The New York Times reported police officers cruising Kinshasa’s streets, guns pointing from their patrol vehicles, firing shots to disperse the crowds. The Associated Press reported that police are rounding up young men in the capital’s opposition neighborhoods.
The U.S.-based Carter Center election observer mission said that some areas in eastern Congo were showing 100 percent turnout with 100 percent of the votes going to Kabila and that one district of Katanga Province was even showing 100.14 percent turnout with 99.98 percent going to Kabila. And, the Carter Center said, results like these don’t occur naturally. They also reported that the results from nearly 2,000 polling stations in Kinshasa, roughly one fifth of the vote in an urban population of 10 million, had not been tallied.
The election has been so badly botched that even the conservative International Crisis Group, an organization of international capital managers, former heads of state, foreign ministers, generals, high level officials and international lawyers, has said that “the U.N., donors and regional leaders must avoid statements that could legitimize a badly flawed vote and destroy what is left of their credibility in the Congo.” “No leader,” they also said, “should be congratulated until all disputes are resolved.”
Maurice Carney, executive director of Washington D.C.-based Friends of the Congo, says, however, that the election was so badly handled that the results cannot be reconstructed so as to resolve disputes:
Maurice Carney: The truth be told, there really is no way for the independent electoral commission to verify the results, because the results do not exist. Many people argue for the results that were published by the independent electoral commission to be cross-checked against the results from the polling stations. But in many instances, the independent electoral commission does not have the results from the polling stations, and in Kinshasa, for example, in one of the reports that came out, 2,000 polling stations’ results were invalidated. They couldn’t find them. And those 2,000 polling stations was equivalent to three quarters of a million votes, just in Kinshasa alone. And there’s no way to verify, validate or anything, because they just don’t exist. Vanished, for whatever reason.
AfrobeatRadio: Eric Kamba, Congolese exile and social worker with the Boston-based Congolese Development Center, agrees that a recount would not establish accuracy.
Eric Kamba: The International Crisis Group were saying something about, among other ways of resolving this problem, would be for the National Electoral Commission to recount the ballots. I’m against that because we all know how many ballots were pre-fixed. So we cannot go that way, trying to recount, because by now, all these ballots were coming even after the election was over. They’re going to recount, they’ll find that Kabila has more votes than anybody.
AfrobeatRadio: The International Crisis Group said that if the opposition takes to the streets, the scale of bloodshed is difficult to predict, and warned that even splits within the army are possible. Tshisekedi has asked his supporters to remain calm and prepare for nonviolent protests next week.
San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own blog, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend News on KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story first appeared on her blog.