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Praise and criticism for DRC elections in observer reports

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Electoral commission workers sitting atop a truck entering the Fikin counting centre, Kinshasa, 30 November

Electoral commission workers sitting atop a truck entering the Fikin counting centre, Kinshasa, 30 November

The results of international and national observation missions to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 2011 elections were presented in Kinshasa on Thursday. The European Union said the process was “inadequately controlled” while Congolese observers said they had seen irregularities at 15 per cent of polling stations.

Q&A: Andres Perello Rodriquez, EU observer mission

Leonie Kandolo, CAFCO observer mission

Rupiah Banda, former Zambian president, Carter Center

Radio France Internationale

Andres Perello, the head of the EU parliamentary delegation, told RFI that the polls were “well done” given the difficulties in travelling around the country and problems with communication.

In their preliminary report the EU drew attention to issues with infrastructure and the security of the election materials. It identified allegations of stuffed ballot boxes in Mbuji Mayi, acts of violence in Kinshasa at badly functioning polling stations, an armed attack in Lubumbashi and 11 polling stations having been looted or burnt in Tshikapa.

The DRC’s own national observation mission said it had seen more positive aspects than negative. It hailed the peoples’ determination to promote democracy through elections, although it did see some problems.

“We observed irregularities of about 15 per cent [of polling stations], more or less,” Léonie Kandolo, from the Congolese joint national observation team, told RFI.

Kandolo called for everybody to accept the result of the election. While given that the DRC is a democracy “under construction” the issues encountered are what she calls a “learning process”.

Tallying the votes continues at compilation centres around the country. The EU says that an accurate results will emerge.

“I think that the people who work at the compilation centre have to be honest. Maybe one person may do something irregular,” said Perello. “But I have to think the people are honest and the result will be correct.”

He was wary of the early proclamation of results by political parties before the official preliminary figures.

“This creates tension in the population, it’s not good. I think the leaders of political parties have to be responsible,” said Perello on the sidelines of the Grand Hotel press conference.

Rupiah Banda delivering the Carter Center's election report

Rupiah Banda delivering the Carter Center’s election report

On Wednesday Rupiah Banda presented the Carter Center observation mission findings.

“Voters participated in large numbers with few major incidents,” he said. “The large and peaceful turnout that the Congolese people have demonstrated reflects their continuing commitment to the pursuit of peace,” Banda added.

However, the former Zambian president, who recently presided over a peaceful transfer of power to Michael Sata in Zambia’s elections, did critique the overall process in the DRC.

He said the running of the elections was “wrought” with logistical and budgetary challenges including the “last minute” delivery of voting materials. Despite congratulating the electoral commission for their final push ahead of the 28th November poll, Banda said ballot papers and voter lists were absent in a significant number of cases.

The results of the elections are being compiled in centres across the country with official preliminary figures expected 6 December.

Written by Daniel Finnan

1 December 2011 at 17:00

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