Congolese Elections—A Step Backward
While the African Union and neighbouring countries have accepted the results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) recently held presidential and parliamentary elections, most national and international observers have said that the results were marred by substantial electoral irregularities and that the results lack credibility. KAIROS human rights partner in eastern DRC, Héritiers de la Justice (www.heritiersdelajustice.org), has joined with other civil society groups in asking that the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) transparently publish the results by voting stations and compilation centres in order to reassure the Congolese people.
The DRC’s Supreme Court, stacked with partisan appointees just prior to the elections, had declared incumbent president Joseph Kabila the victor by a 49 to 32 percent margin over perennial opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in the elections of November 28th, 2011.
These are the second elections to be held since the end of the long civil war claiming directly or indirectly some four million lives in the country. However, these elections were substantially less supported by the international community, including by Canada, than those held under United Nations auspices in 2006.
Canada supported only six election observers to monitor the vote. This is despite the DRC’s membership in the Francophonie and significant economic benefit to Canada from Canadian mining companies in the DRC. While more observers alone may not alone have guaranteed a better electoral process, the results point to the need for more robust financial and political support for democratic development in the immediate future and a stronger monitoring presence for the next round of elections.
Canada’s greater involvement should include an increased focus on gender and democracy. KAIROS has urged the Canadian government to rigorously support the democratic rights of Congolese women through specific policy proposals. See the KAIROS document ‘Canada’s responsibility in advancing women’s roles in peacebuilding and defending human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘.
Several KAIROS members participated in election observation teams including Development and Peace and the Canadian Friends Service Committee (of the Religious Society of Friends). KAIROS joins with them in calling on all Congolese to eschew violence and take early, concrete action to remedy the lack of transparency around these elections. For further information, please see the joint press release of Development and Peace, L’Entraide missionaire, and Canadian Friends Service Committee, “Hopes for Democracy in the DRC Must be Respected”: