How concerned is the U.S. about the elections in Congo?
Here's what State Department lips Mark Toner had to say at today's presser:
QUESTION: Does the U.S. have a sense of how the elections in Congo today have actually played out? We’ve been reporting that there’s concern about ballot stuffing, some scattered incidents of violence, concern that some candidates may try to steal the election – that sort of thing.
MR. TONER: Now we are concerned. Thanks for bringing it up, Rosalind. We’re concerned about reports of anomalies in today’s voting process and hope they’ll be – they’ll prove to be isolated. The U.S. deplores in the strongest possible terms the recent election-related violence that has taken place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and we would just say that there’s no place for violence in these elections and we strongly condemn those responsible, and just reminding the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo of its role in providing a safe environment for voters to go to the polls.
QUESTION: Is there any sense that this election is not credible, and if so, why?
MR. TONER: Again, we’ve – we have – we’re very concerned about the violence that’s taken place. We’ve seen some anomalies. I think we’ll wait and see how it all plays out before we make a final judgment.
And here's what U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said in an exchange with the ever-vigilent Inner City Press:
Inner City Press: How about the Congo elections? There have been a lot of reports of ballots not being delivered, of polling places being burned. There's been some question of the UN's objectivity. I wonder do you think it's been up to standards given how much the UN--its presence there. What does the U.S. think of the conduct of the Congolese elections?
Ambassador Rice: Well obviously we're concerned by reports of violence and indeed some deaths today in various parts of the country. We're concerned about reported anomalies in the conduct of the election, which we hope will prove to be relatively isolated. But I think it's important for everyone to remember that this election was conducted by the Congolese at their insistence. It was not, like the prior election, one that was in effect organized and orchestrated by the United Nations.
The United Nations does not have a central role either in the conduct of the election or even the certification of these elections. That said, we think it's very important for the Congolese to respect the processes that have been provided by the electoral authorities, to refrain from violence, and we hope that when the situation clarifies that the disturbing reports we've heard today will prove to be the exception rather than the rule. But we need to wait and see.
Rice was rather more effusive about the UN's capacity for good last week, when she spoke in Rwanda about the UN's work preventing genocide in Libya. “This time, the Security Council acted. And acted in time. Having failed in Rwanda and Darfur, it did not fail again in Libya. Within less than two days, American firepower played a decisive role in stopping Gadhafi’s forces and saving Benghazi."