In a critically important development, Pascal Kambale of the Open Society Institute (OSI) in Kinshasa has all-but called yesterday's election in Congo illegitimate.
While not explicitly rejecting the validity of the election, Kambale made it clear that OSI would have grave problems accepting its legitimacy. OSI is the first independent, highly reputable Western NGO to have declared itself so clearly on the issue. Here is the account from the BBC:
The Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, a non-governmental organisation which deployed 5,000 observers to polling stations, also expressed concerns about irregularities, the AFP news agency reports. "The irregularities are so widespread it will be difficult for anyone to ignore and say they had no impact on the integrity of the vote," its country director, Pascal Kambale, is quoted as saying.
He said millions of of voters had been turned away from polling stations after being told they were at the wrong stations. "A more worrying sign of a probable rigging attempt were a number of already-filled-in ballot papers that were discovered by people across the country," Mr Kambale is quoted as saying.
Business Week is reporting that two of the other major Western election observers haven't yet reached a formal judgment on the election: “Baya Kara, the head of the Atlanta-based Carter Center mission in Congo, which trained more than 6,000 election observers, declined to comment on the vote until Nov. 30. Madnodje Mounoubai the spokesman for the UN mission in Congo wouldn’t comment when reached by phone."