Thursday, December 1, 2011

Missing Links, Day Four

Do me a favor and shoot the next person who claims they've got unofficial early poll results. No one knows anything yet, despite the rumors you've been hearing. Even if the numbers are accurate, which they probably won't be, you'd need precinct-by-precinct data to detect any meaningful trends.

Still, if you want to find out what everyone's talking about, this is as good an example as any. Apparently, a print-up of this page is circulating like wildfire in Kinshasa, and even being sold at 200 francs (15 cents) on the street! REMEMBER: This may have sociological interest but it is worthless as a data point on the election!!! We've all got to sit around for the next few days and wait.

In other news, there's going to be a congressional briefing on the 2010 mapping exercise and DRC's 2011 election on Tuesday, December 6, from 2:30 to 4:00 PM, at the Capitol Visitor Center, entrance to the U.S. Capitol is located on First Street and East Capitol Street, NE. Room: SVC 203 and SVC-202.

I'm not wild about the fact that the briefing focuses on two extremely important yet only marginally related topics. I'd have preferred one briefing on each, with the first one focusing on the election and another one in a month or two on developments with the mapping report. But still, they've assembled a great set of speakers:
  • Federico Borello, Former United Nations coordinator of the Transitional Justice and Anti-Impunity Unit at the UN mission in Congo (MONUC) and was part of the UN Mapping Team in Congo
  • Nii Akuetteh, Nii is a long-time activist, founder of the Democracy & Conflict Research Institute (Accra, Ghana)
  • Ntama Bahati, Policy Analyst, Africa Faith and Justice Network 
  • Claude Gatebuke, Rwandan genocide survivor and Executive Director and Co-Founder of the African Great Lakes Action Network (AGLAN)
  • Fidele Lumea, Executive Director of Congolese American Council for Peace and Development focus on Humanitarian Assistance, Peacebuilding and Development
  • Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies
  • Kambale Musavuli, Friends of the Congo, Spokesperson & Student Coordinator
Remember that a briefing is not a hearing! This isn't before a congressional committee, this is just some experts who will be speaking in the vicinity of Congress.

Agence France Press reports that conspiracy theories are swirling in the aftermath of the election (query: can theories swirl, eg., like rumors--or do they run amok, like bad ideas?) Tshisekedi's camp is accusing Kabila of flying in pre-marked ballots from South Africa to up his total; Kabila is countering that Tshisekedi is planning an insurrection if he doesn't win.

Radio France Internationale does AFP one better: It reports on some of the more esoteric rumors that were circulating prior to the election. My fav: "Mysterious candidate photos: Don’t look at the first candidate’s photo on the presidential ballot paper. It has special powers given to it by Satan. If you look at the photo it will force you to vote for it."

Here's a thinly veiled warning aimed at Kabila and the international community not to interfere in the election. Money quote: "The Observatoire des Elections 2011 invites the Congolese people not to yield to any attempt to confiscate their fundamental right contained in Article 64 of the Constitution, and to recognize a common duty to defeat any individual or group of individuals who takes power by force or who exercises power in violation of constitutional provisions. Finally, we reserve the right to initiate, in synergy with other social and political forces of the DRC, all actions necessary to safeguard the interests of the Congolese people."

The Red Cross posts an interview with Franz Rauchenstein, its man in Kinshasa: "Election results will be announced on December 6 and we anticipate this day could cause some party supporters quite a bit of frustration."

Melanie Gouby reports from Goma for Radio Nederland Africa. Good to put a voice to the tweets.

Here's Kamerhe (at 3:24) insisting that he's changed his mind about the need to annul the election because the Congolese people were doing what was necessary to enforce the rules and reject fraud, and not for any ulterior reason. I half believe him.

Jacques Djol, the vice-president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) told everyone to remain vigilant and ensure that the vote count reported at the electoral headquarters matches what they see locally. He said this would establish the transparency and reliability of the election. Speaking of which, Kamerhe's asking CENI to publish the results as they come in, instead of waiting until all the results have arrived.

Headline of an editorial in Le Soir, a French newspaper: "Avec Etienne Tshisekedi 56%, les Congolais ont choisi l'expérience en lieu et place de la prédation, des magouilles et atteintes massives aux droits de l'homme de Joseph Kabila et ses josephistes. (With Tshisekedi, the Congolese have chosen experience over predation, scheming, and massive human rights violations of Joseph Kabila and his Josephistes)" I wonder if the author's a Tshisekedi supporter.

The Center for Forced Migration Studies' Ushahidi-based map of electoral disputes hasn't shown much of an uptick recently. Its real test will come after December 6. 

From Syfia Grands Lacs comes a cheering story about a poor bike porter in Kisangani who's ahead of richer and better known candidates in the race for a seat in parliament--he's even leading candidates who have given out thousands of dollars in presents. Syfia features stories about the election from all over the country: highly recommended!

The BBC has a KinyaRwanda service? Wow. I did not know that. I bet they employ most of the world's English-Kinyarwanda translators.


  1. "Le Soir" is a Belgian, not French, newspaper - you're actually quoting "Le Soft" which is neither French nor Belgian but Congolese (their site is hosted in France, however)

  2. The story of Syfia Grands Lacs on a "poor bie porter" in Kisangani who is ahead of richer and better known candidates in the race for a seat in parliament and who is even leading candidates who have given out thousands of dollars in presents is very important for you guys of international community. I hope you have understood that Congolese people have suffered a lot and want a change. This election is about CHANGE. I hope the international community has understood that.