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Congo does not deserve this…

December 12th, 2011    •   No Comments    

Recent elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) worry me.  If you’d like a primer in how to defraud an entire country, study them. Here’s a reasonably non-sensational account from the BBC. Here’s Reuter’s December 11 article.

The Carter Center, the U.N., the Catholic Church, and numerous other observers in DRC all raise serious questions about the election. Truckloads of bags of ballots dumped in the rain; polling places burned; people shot going to the polls in some places. Most seriously “official” counts that show over 100% turnout in some Kabila strongholds, with ballots from some 2,000 polling stations in Kinshasa, Tshisekedi’s base, missing! The election “lacked credibility” indeed!

Simply put, if these neutral observers are correct, the election of Joseph Kabila is not legitimate. Heck, if they’re only 1/3 correct, the election should be restaged.

Part of the reason Western governments are willing to tolerate this “election” is the perception that his primary opposition, Etienne Tshisekedi, is, to quote Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times, a “rabble-rouser.”

Tshisekedi, to be sure, is not all sweetness and light. He can be erratic, with a mercurial temper. He’s demanding and tough. You might be, too, if you had spent 30 or more years struggling for free, fair, transparent, and democratic elections. And for your efforts every president since Mobutu, including the current incumbent, has harassed, beaten, falsely detained, and otherwise intimidated both Tshisekedi’s supporters, and the man himself.

At the very least Western governments should insist that the Kabila Parliament repeal the law he pushed through this year which declared that a simple plurality of votes, not a majority, is enough to win an election. It’s pretty clear that in a run-off between Kabila and Tshisekedi, there is little question that Tshisekedi would win. Maybe that’s why few voices in opposition got any attention at all in Western foreign offices.

Pray for Congo. And call your congressional representatives.

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