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The Democratic Republic of Congo

Elections 2005

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Elections 2005

National elections are scheduled to be held in June 2005 since the transitional government was granted a transitional time of 24 months. However the transitional government has the right to prolongue this transitional time by a period of another six months.
Generally people are confident that the elections will be held as scheduled and an Independent Election Commission (CEI, Commission Électorale Indépendante) has been installed since some time back and is working hard on preparing the elections with the assistance of MONUC (Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo).
Then again some people say this might be doubtful as time is running out for all the necessary preparations and even if saying "l´espoir fait vivre", feel it will be very likely that the transitional government will be prolongued as stated above.
We should bear in mind that this large country and its people do not have recent experience of free democratic elections. The last presidential elections were held in July 1984 and Mobutu Sese Seko was as in 1970 and '77 the only candidate (multi-presidential elections were never held) and the last multi-party elections were held in 1965, the first ones after the independece from Belgium in 1960. The last wars had a drastic effect on the people and the country's infrastructure. Most Congolese people do not have an identity card and the many Congolese citizens living abroad should actually be allowed to vote, as well. This all will make the elections a logistical challenge.
President Joseph Kabila's main opponents are believed to be Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba (leader of Ugandan-backed MLC with its HQ in Mobutu Sese Seko's hometown Gbadolite) and Etienne Tshisekedi (president of UDPS, political opposition-veteran, formerly 3 times Prime Minister but also in prison under Mobutu Sese Seko). Vice-President Azarias Ruberwas (Tutsi, leader of Rwandan-backed RCD-Goma) and his party are expected to lose most of their influence in the future government.
November 2004:
While some political parties already started their campagns, key points for the elections which today (at the beginning of November 2004) seem to remain unclear and are still lively discussed by politicians, within the CEI and in public include:
  • How and when will the nationwide census be held and how and when will people be able to register for the elections?
  • Who is allowed to vote (who is a Congolese citizen?, are Congolese soldiers allowed to vote?, limit voting age?, etc.)?
  • What kind of government do the people of the DRC wish and when will the electoral law be established?
  • Can elections be held before the country is fully re-united and the demobilisation of local armed groups is completed? 
After Rwanda had again threatened to send troops to the DRC in order to fight its own rebels who operate from Congolese soil, it was reported that troops of 4'000 to 5'000 soldiers of its national army RDF (Rwandan Defense Forces) have been sighted in eastern DRC since Nov 29. President Kabila has sent additional FARDC-troops (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo) to the invaded area in the North Kivu province. It is believed that the Rwandan actions have the intention to delay the June 2005-elections with the fear of losing control over Congolese natural ressources.
December 2004:
To be continued...

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