Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tshisekedi Is Winning the Post-Election

The big news today is Vital Kamerhe rescinding his earlier call for the election to be annulled. Why did he do it? Speculation is swirling, but no one believes it's simply because he's had a further chance to review the evidence. Politicians aren't scientists, after all. With Tshisekedi's supporters predicting (or sometimes proclaiming) imminent victory, the thinking is that TshiTshi has offered Kamerhe a senior post in the new government in return for Kamerhe's support during what is sure to be a nasty post-election fight for control of the government.

I'm not sure I buy this idea. It would be a canny move on Tshisekedi's part--uncharacteristically canny, if you ask me. (For one thing, it might allay international concern about Tshisekedi's temperament and governing ability.) Tshisekedi's not the type to be giving away the store so early. He's shown very little interest in sharing power before, and I can't imagine him starting now, when he must believe he's on the cusp of capturing the prize he's spent half his life pursuing.

But the fact that we're having this discussion shows how effectively Tshisekedi has won the post-election debate. Early returns have (apparently--do we have any confirmation on this?) propelled him into the lead, and he has his supporters convinced he's going to win. From Kabila, by contrast, there has been nothing but silence. This may be the more statesman-like course, but in this context it plays like an acknowledgment of defeat.

Kamerhe has been the most visible candidate since Monday, posting several videos on his web site and youtube. This is not uncharacteristic of Kamerhe, who ran the most Western-style campaign. But we're still awaiting word for why he changed his mind. Until then, we're left wondering: What does he know that we don't?

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