by Elco B
Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 03:59:21 AM EST
Sunday 30 July 2006 is a historic day in DR CONGO (DRC). For the first time in 46 years democratic elections are organised. This morning the message came that a Belgian unmanned aerial vehicle (Israeli made B-Hunter) crashed in the streets of Kinshasa wounding two. Belgian military are in DRC as part of the European force to keep an eye on the elections.((Operation EUFOR RD Congo).). Is this the omen the elections will crash also?
From the front page ~ whataboutbob
Once again, remember DRC is a very big country (As in the distance Paris-Moskou).
So the situation on any level can be totaly different in various regions.
As DRC was a former colony of Belgium (till 1960) ties are still strong: many Belgians work in DRC, lots of NGO's are active, the catholic community holds pieces together that otherwise would desintegrate (education and healthcare)military cooperation, economic interests.....)
Also members of my family worked in DRC and I still have friends residing there. In the Belgian press there is a lot of interest for what happens in the DRC. This morning I could find over 20 Belgian reporters from papers, radio and TV-stations that made the trip. Since two weeks there are daily articles, intervieuws and documentary's .
Impossible to find a general picture of the situation overthere: City's have a totaly other atmosphere than a village in the bush, controlled areas are different than semi'autonomous' areas and those who are abandonned by every autority hardly know there are elections.
What our reporters and other contacts tells us is a cacophony of facts, rumours, situations, incidents, raw power, military arbitrariness, hope, scepticism, hilarity, stupidity, unwillingness.....in their reports one can find every mood from sadness to joy, from nihilism to 'The New God Will Arrive'.
So this isn't realy a diary but an attempt to paint further on the picture we have of DR Congo.
What are the elections about?
After the agreements of the last years, a transitional government became in power under president Kabila. There are 4 vice-presidents: former leaders of opposition and rebellion groups.
After initial difficulties the date of 30 july 2006 was set for elections. Purpose : election of the members of parliament and election of a new president.
Yesterday was the last (official) day of the campaign and people have to choose between 9000 (nine thousand)candidates for the 500 seat parliament and between 33 candidates for the presidency.
For the parliament most candidates only are on the list of their own province. There are 297 political party's and only 13 present a list in all of the 11 provinces.
The whole operation is supported by variuos country's and specially the EU gave logistic support for the voting materials, printing ballots and distributing it over the country by plane,car,boat,jeep and foot expeditions.
With 33 candidates for presidency it is unlikely the new president will be known after this elections: a majority of 50% is needed. The expectations are that a second round will be needed between the two candidates with highest results.
A official timetable is not yet set. There is a official committee (CEI) as the highest authority about the elections. They expect the official results of the first round on 14 sept.(remember, DRC is a big country whith almost no infrastructure) If a second round is necessary they will hold the presidential elections second round on 15 october together with those for the provincial governments.
Those results are expected by 30 Nov.2006 (remember....) In this scenario (seen as optimistic by many) the new president and membersof parliament could be installed just for years-end.
News-bits from over the country:
DR Congo : facts and figures
The Invisible Congo Tragedy.
D.R. CONGO: Minerals Flow Abroad, Misery Remains
- Kabila, held a meeting in a impoverished part of Kinshasa. Soldiers , extra payed formed the largest part of the crowd, the others came for a free T-shirt and softdrink.
- Every political party has his own media : paper, radio-station and in the large city's a TV-station.Now they can grab in state-money to finance this. After the elections there will be losers. Only on this level they already created a recipe for disaster.
- Since the vast majority of voters is illiterate, ballots are printed with the photo of the candidates; this is almost hilarious for Kinshasa: people must find their candidate among 500 other photo's.
- Here in the bush, we never saw a candidate on campaign. No Tv-station can reach us (remember....), so we can vote at the station 20km from here: so what choice I have? I will look at the photo's and pick the one with the nicest face.
- Elections, what is this? never heard of a thing like this? oh...we can pick a candidate? Nobody told us anything.
- So long the Primus-factory(beer) is working I am satisfied. Nobody gives a ** about us in the mines.
- Bumba(city in the North): Kabila came by plane for a meeting and dissapeared after two hours. A Belgian journalist couldn't find an internet connection to send his report. So he saw a dish-antenna and asked the people there (catholic Belgian missionairy) how to reach the outside world. The only thing they could offer was a radio-connection with another post who could reach Kinshasa.He had to spell out his report. The dish-antenna was for TV-only. Besides, the only stations they could recieve are Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya.