By Staff
This week the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) got an officially elected President for the first time in its history. The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) announced on 15 November 2006 that the incumbent President Joseph Kabila won the Congolese Presidency with 58.05 percent of the votes against his rival Jean-Pierre Bemba who gathered 41.95 percent.
Bemba rejected the results and vowed to challenge Kabila’s victory by all legal means. He then filed a lawsuit on 18 November to the Supreme Court claiming he was cheated of millions of votes. Kabila’s victory was widely recognized as being legitimate. Many observers have considered Bemba’s choice to challenge Kabila’s victory through legal means as a potential sign that he would not resort to violence and plunge the sprawling country back into chaos. However, GLCSS believes Kabila’s relationship with the opposition will play a crucial role in determining the future of the DRC and the Great Lakes Region in general.
As mentioned above the CEI announced the results from the 29 October run-off vote for the Presidential election.  Kabila’s victory was widely expected because it has been consistently predicted in the election polls that he had been ahead of Bemba.
Statistics indicate that Kabila won 9,436,779 votes (58.05 percent) while Bemba won 6,819,822 votes (41.95 percent). Both candidates improved their results compared to the first round. Kabila gained 44.81 percent of the votes with 7,590,485 of the 17,931,237 votes while Bemba received 20.03 percent of votes with 3,392,592 votes from the first round.
Apparently Bemba managed to double his score compared to the first round.  GLCSS interprets Bemba’s twofold increase as follows: in the first round there were several presidential candidates who had to share votes from the western and central DRC provinces with Bemba who appears to have strong support from that part of the country. Therefore most of the votes were given to him in the second round as his rivals were no longer running. On the other hand Kabila did not increase his votes at the same rate as Bemba according to the statistics above. GLCSS interprets this phenomenon as a result of the maximization of votes from his stronghold, eastern DRC, in the first round.
As previously reported the minimum number of votes Kabila received from the eastern provinces like South Kivu, North Kivu, Maniema and Province Oriental was 70 percent. Therefore there would not be a remarkable difference as he had already maximized the votes in the first round. In fact he would expect to gain more votes from the Western provinces where he had failed in the first round.  GLCSS believes most of the additional votes he gained were from Bemba’s stronghold, and was as a result of the coalition he made with westerners like Antoine Gizenga and Nzanga Mobutu. Bemba’s score implies that Kabila would face a strong opposition if it were well organized.
As mentioned earlier Bemba and his Union for the Nation (UN) did not accept the results.  “I regret to have to say to our people and to the international community that I cannot accept these results which are far from reflecting the truth of the ballot box,” Bemba stated on 16 November 2006 in Kinshasa. “I promise to use all legal means to ensure the will of our people is respected,” he added.
Before the results were published there had been allegations against the CEI over rigging votes during the counting process.  The most prominent allegations included accusations of systematic cheating in the vote counting.  The opposition has indicated it was seriously concerned over the transparency in vote counting, particularly votes of 1,481,291 people, approximately 10 percent of the votes cast, who voted outside their electoral constituencies.  
However the CEI dismissed Bemba’s allegations. Apollinaire Malu Malu, CEI President said the commission found no proof for Bemba’s complaints. ‘’Counter-checking revealed that the results that were posted corresponded with the real situation. To date we have no proof to the contrary,” he argued.
The international community and election observers welcomed the CEI announcement and congratulated Kabila on his victory while calling for Bemba to accept the results.  Shortly after he was declared the winner, Kabila vowed to be President of all the Congolese and promised the DRC would reform its current state in various domains from its old image of chaos.    
The CEI has on 15 November, in accordance with article 71 of the Electoral Law, handed over the results and other elections related documents to the Supreme Court which has the authority to validate or reject the results. In addition, the Commission received Bemba’s complaints and the proposed solutions from the CEI. As indicated earlier Bemba filed a lawsuit to challenge Kabila’s victory. 
According to Congolese law, the Supreme Court must examine the complaints and decide on them. If it concludes they are well founded it could order the recount of votes where necessary. Otherwise it will confirm Kabila’s victory, probably on 30 November 2006.  GLCSS expects the Supreme Court to confirm the results announced by the CEI and the opposition is likely to implement its vow to play its role within the democratic institutions. If this happens it will minimize the high violence risk that has been looming all along the electoral process.
GLCSS last month predicted the most likely scenario as the victory of Kabila with a legal results challenge by Bemba and finally his acceptance to cooperate with Kabila. (See GLCSS Weekly News and Analysis 27 October 2006 for detailed scenario discussion). However as previously emphasized there is need for some sacrifices, flexibility, political tolerance and democratic spirit on both sides. The winner needs to give considerable political space to the opposition and avoid monopolizing power. GLCSS believes any attempt to monopolize power by the Alliance for Presidential Majority would plunge the DRC into chaos. Given the votes obtained by Bemba and parliamentarian seats occupied by his Union for the Nation there is an unavoidable necessity to cooperate and respect each other. In short Kabila is likely to face a strong Bemba-led opposition. 


Meanwhile, the electoral process is not yet finished. The inauguration of the president is scheduled on 10 December 2006 but CEI sources confirmed that the election of the senate, which was previously scheduled for 29 December, was postponed.  Some reports indicated that there would be a lack of senatorial candidates by the deadline and that this may have contributed to the postponement of the election.  According to Mirimo, CEI spokesperson, the postponement was demanded by several political parties arguing that they had been busy following up the presidential results.

According to the electoral calendar the candidates should have finished registering on 13 November but until that date there were some electoral constituencies that had no candidates. The CEI set the deadline for candidacy registration to 30 November and 7 January 2007 for the senatorial vote. The senators will be elected by provincial deputies for a five year renewable mandate. The elected senators are expected to represent 26 provinces as for the new territorial division (including Kinshasa). Each province will have 4 seats except Kinshasa which will have 8 seats. In the mean time the senators will be representing the 11 provinces. According to the constitution the new provinces must be in place within 36 months.
The provincial governors are also expected to be elected by provincial deputies on 16 January. GLCSS also expects Kabila’s AMP to dominate the remaining elections and appoint the majority of the senators and governors.   




William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church at GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

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