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Monday, August 28, 2006
DR Congo Analysis: Who Will Win the Runoff Elections?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Independent Election Commission (CEI) broke the suspense on 20 August and officially announced that no one candidate gained at least 51 percent of the vote, which would have avoided a second round election. President Joseph Kabila gained 44.81 percent of the votes with 7,590,485 of the 17,931,237 votes.
Vice President J.P Bemba received 3,392,592 votes or 20.3 percent. At third place, Antoine Gizenga received 13.06 percent with 2,211,290 votes, and he was followed by Nzanga Mobutu with 808,397 (4.77 percent) and finally Oscar Kashala received 3.46 percent with 585,410 votes. The remaining candidates gained some 2,349,359 votes. Some 870,758 of the votes were declared invalid and another 122,946 were filed as blank.
In addition, only 70.5 percent of the 25,420,199 registered voters were able to cast their ballot. This is a key factor since the July voting was surrounded by allegations of armed groups hindering the voting process. In other words a modest increase of five percent of voters would have provided another 1,133,512 voters, which could become a crucial factor in the next round of elections.
As previously reported by the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies (GLCSS), the DRC’s elections will be determined by the ability of the opposition to form coalitions and, perhaps to increase the number of voters. Before the elections, DRC politicians forged coalitions and drew battle lines. President Kabila’s supporters officially launched their Alliance for Presidential Majority (AMP) on 24 June 2006 in Kinshasa to support his candidacy. It gathered some 31 political parties and 29 independent personalities. It included both politicians and businessmen.
The AMP was later joined by the Forces for Renewal (FR) supporting Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi who reportedly campaigned for Kabila. Olivier Kamitatu, who was one of founding members of the FR became also the Secretary General of Kabila’s AMP and, reportedly, his chief campaigner. Other supporters included Christophe Lutundura, Mokolo Wa Pombo, Mwenze Kongolo, Bahati Lukwebo, Didi Kinuani, Ngoy Kasanji, Koyagialo, Athanase Matenda, Joseph Mudumbi and Banza Mukalay Sungu.
On 17 June 2006, Vice President J.P Bemba and the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) in conjunction with some twenty-four political parties formed the Congolese Nationalists’ Rally (RENACO). Prominent parties in RENACO include the Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD) of Kisombe Kiaku Muisi, the Republican Generations (GR) of Bofassa Djema, the Congolese Democrats Alliance (ADECO) of Jonas Mukamba and the Christian Convention for Democracy (CCD) of Lisanga Bonganga.
This coalition was planning to field three presidential candidates: J.P Bemba (MLC), Jonas Mukamba Kadiata Nzemba (ADECO) and Mboso Nkodia Mpwanga of the Convention for Republic and Democracy (CRD). They now remain with a single candidate, J.P. Bemba, to contest the second round.
Bemba’s association with Mobutu-loyalists and Etienne Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) supporters elevated him above other likely contenders. His current portfolio, as vice president, placed him further from Mobutu’s son Nzanga Mobutu, currently with the Union for Democratic Mobutists (UDEMO), and Nzuzi wa Mbombo Catherine, president of the Mobutu’s Popular Movement for Revolution, (MPR/fait prive).
It is GLCSS’ belief that most of this coalition’s members will continue to support Bemba as other candidates from the coalition such as Mobutu and Catherine Nzuzi, who are no longer competing, may swing their votes to Bemba.
RENACO has been pushing its identity as a nationalist coalition to increase its nationwide appeal but the majority of its founding members are reportedly Mobutists. It has been claimed that it has the support of 10 former ministers under Mobutu’s regime. In addition, Ngbanda-Nzambo Ko Atumba, the former special security adviser to Mobutu and currently the national president of the Alliance for Congolese Patriots for Refoundation of Congo (APARECO), is reportedly among senior strategists of the coalition.
In addition, RENACO strategically continued to support Tshisekedi’s call for an open political forum to discuss the legality of the election. GLCSS has stressed that the goal was to gain a wider political base and pull votes from Tshisekedi’s supporters, since he failed to register as a presidential candidate.
GLCSS believes this strategy somehow failed in the first round, since most of Tshisekedi supporters voted for Kashala but it believes Tshisekedi’s supporters will switch their support to Bemba in the second round, since Kashala is no longer competing. In other words, GLCSS forecasts a possible coalition of Oscar Kashala supported by the UDPS with Bemba.
GLCSS had indicated in its previous analysis that most Mobutists were likely to support Bemba and Nzanga Mobutu while most of Lumumbists were likely to support Kabila (see GLCSS Weekly News and Analysis 23 June 2006). GLCSS believes the July elections took into account that trend, and it is convinced that the second round of elections will continue that trend for Mobutists and Lumumbists.
Other factors, however, may disturb this trend, and this includes allegiances based on regional origin and linguistic background. As previously reported, it has been noticed that Kabila secured most of his votes from the Swahili speaking east and Bemba received strong support from the Lingala speaking west. This trend is more than likely to continue.
There have been speculations in Kinshasa that Antoine Gizenga was likely to join Kabila, and this could raise Kabila’s known votes to a potential 9,801,775. GLCSS does not exclude this possibility because of the following reasons: Gizenga is a Lumumbist and a particular friend to Olivier Kamitatu the chief campaigner of Kabila. Both originate from Bandundu and are very influential there. Therefore, as the Secretary General of Kabila’s AMP, Kamitatu may influence Gizenga and convince him to join the alliance.
Unconfirmed reports from the DRC suggested that Kabila may have promised the Prime Minister post to the veteran politician who held the same post in the 60’s after Lumumba was killed in Kinshasa. Trying to regain the post, even in his 80’s, he may offer his support to the candidate he considers the most favorite and at the moment that is Kabila. If Gizenga joins Kabila, mathematically though not automatically, Kabila would gain another 13.06 percent of the votes.
Gizenga and other Lumumbists’ support to Kabila may also be motivated by his father’s involvement in the Lumumbist Liberation struggle in the 1960’s.
However, GLCSS believes Kabila will face a strong Bemba led opposition especially based on regionalism. The fact that no other easterner (except his father) has ever ruled the DRC might be a serious obstacle to his easy victory. Election results confirmed that most of the Congolese apparently did base their vote on regional and linguistic preferences. If this scenario comes into play, it is likely that some candidates may prefer to form an alliance with Kabila but their supporters may not follow and vote for Bemba.
On the other hand, Bemba is likely to gain most of the opposition votes and stands a better chance to increase his votes. As discussed earlier, Kashala supporters are expected to move behind Bemba. Kashala used UDPS as his political base, and received votes from its strongholds, especially Kasais. Taking into account the very bad relations between Kabila and the UDPS leader, it is more likely that Kashala will be supporting Bemba.
Recently, the Bemba led opposition reportedly formed another coalition, Tout Sauf Kabila (All except Kabila: TSK). Bemba is expected to exploit that though the name itself is seen as full of hatred and lacking political tolerance.
A preliminary count based on the above scenarios gives Kabila some 9,801,775 votes (Kabila plus Gizenga) compared to Bemba’s 4,786,399 votes (Bemba plus Kashala plus Mobutu). Even the remaining 2,349,359 votes do not help Bemba. If they switched their votes to Bemba in masse, which is highly unlikely, it would only bring his total to 7,135,758. This is still short of Kabila’s projected nearly 10 million votes.
Considering these factors, GLCSS believes the election will be decided on a combination of factors with the primary factor being the fate of Gizenga’s two million plus votes and the 2.3 million voters who voted for candidates not in the top four. The overarching question is whether these voters will split between Mobutists and Lumumbists or on other lines like regional or linguistic issues.
Another factor will be the overall number of voters and the percentage of eligible voters voting, and this may be hindered by actual violence or fear of violence. Regrettably, the two next months are expected to be marred by violence in towns like Kinshasa and Mbuji Mayi, as it had been the case in the first round campaigns.
Diplomatic, military and independent sources contacted by GLCSS in Kinshasa confirmed the media reports that rival supporters and security personnel of Kabila and Bemba were involved in heavy fighting in Kinshasa for three days. Allegedly Kabila’s Presidential Guard and army units loyal to him attacked Bemba's residence with heavy armor, including artillery fire, reportedly in an attempt to disarm Bemba’s soldiers.
At least 23 people were killed and 43 wounded. Other reports suggest that there has been looting in some Kinshasa quarters. In addition GLCSS military sources confirmed that Bemba's private helicopter was destroyed. Moreover, his television and radio stations were reportedly destroyed, which is seen by some observers as an effort to hinder his next campaign.
A number of foreign diplomats, who were reportedly paying a courtesy call on Bemba at the time of the attack, were trapped at his residence before they were rescued by both MONUC and EUFOR armed units who successfully intervened. This included ambassadors of the Committee for Accompanying the Transition (CIAT), MONUC-head, William Swing, and the representative of the European Union.
Diplomatic sources from Kinshasa said that the envoys had gone there to try to ease tensions and organize a meeting between Kabila and Bemba. Further reports suggest that even though Bemba has his own armed forces he is currently under UN protection. According to Kemal Saiki, UN spokesman, MONUC has 20 APCs around Bemba's residence. The international community intervened to restore order in Kinshasa, both militarily and diplomatically, and UN and other International organizations strongly condemned the clashes and urged both candidates to take their political responsibility.
President Kabila and Vice President Bemba reportedly made an uneasy truce on 22 August 2006 and agreed to reign in forces that have been involved in three days of clashes. The agreement called for their troops to leave the capital and return to their barracks immediately. The deal was signed by representatives of Kabila and Bemba, the DRC army, MONUC, EUFOR, and EUPOL, the European Union police mission. In response to the unrest, the EU moved more troops to the DRC. According to EU sources some 400 EUFOR troops stationed in Gabon were transferred to Kinshasa in anticipation of further clashes in Kinshasa.
The electoral process has been marked by increasing political tension regrettably created by highly placed politicians, who have been using xenophobic and inflammatory language especially surrounding the issues of Congolese identity, ethnic and regional differences. Another indication that the post election would not be smooth was the size of Kabila’s and Bemba’s personal armies who are concentrated in Kinshasa.
GLCSS considers the current clashes as a precursor of things to come if the international community fails to take appropriate measures during the two month run-off preparation period. In other words, this week’s events apparently underlined the growing animosity between the rival camps and, considering the history where Kabila and Bemba were on the opposite sides of the 1998-2003 civil war and that apparently their supporters remain deeply antagonistic towards each other, GLCSS fears that clashes between their supporters will become a common occurrence in the two months leading to the second-round presidential elections.
GLCSS believes that with their rivalry further being fuelled by their desire to win the presidency more violence may erupt in the DRC especially in Kinshasa and other opposition strongholds like Kassais. However GLCSS shares the view with Aziz Pahad, the South Africa deputy minister of foreign affairs, who stated that his country was concerned that there is still a possibility of conflict breaking out, but is sure that the European Union and United Nations troops can take care of it.
The final factors influencing voter turnout and, therefore, the elections will be the level of violence by the political parties and groups like the FDLR, which are directed at controlling votes. It is for this reason that the failure of the DRC security sector reforms and disarmament of the foreign armed groups will be a vital and deciding factor.
It highlights that elections can not be held in a vacuum or as a one-off project. Peacebuilding must include a coordinated progress in all areas that include: security, disarmament, improved governance, and the building of democratic institutions. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the DRC and the increased risk and instability is more likely to be the end result for the DRC.
The Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies is a London-based think tank.
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posted by GLCSS at 3:42 AM
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