Further to its publication of 1 December, the Joint Electoral Observation Mission in the DRC released a statement on 16 December that provided fuller details of the electoral abuses that occurred in the DRC elections of the 28 November. This has been reproduced here (in condensed form) for Congo NOW. Alternatively, please scroll down and read the original statement in full.

The Condensed Statement

As detailed in the statement of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on 1 December, AETA and EurAc deplore the high number of irregularities and deficiencies that have continued to mar [the] elections [of 28 November], including during the vote-tallying process.

Our election observers noted the following:
a. The polling stations

– Many voters were not able to vote, unable to find their names on the electoral lists, or locate their polling station. This was partly a consequence of inadequate communication by the CENI to the electorate following numerous observed incidents and amid much confusion. Acts of violence in many polling stations prevented the electorate from voting calmly on election day, such as in Kananga and Kalehe.

Some [ballot papers] ended up in hands of individuals not authorised by the CENI. There were insufficient ballot papers in some centres and polling stations. This was the case in Dibindi, Bandundu province, Dibulu and Kanapumba.

– Not all voting material [polling station reports, polling booths etc] was delivered by 28 November.

– [There was a] gap between the number of ballot papers received and the vote expressed in certain polling stations.. These differences could lead to suspicions of electoral fraud.– [There were instances of] Voter illiteracyand occasional confusion around the voting process.

b. The results compilation centres

AETA-EurAc observation mission notes above all the chaotic manner in which the vote tallying operations took place. A number of flagrant incidents were reported, including:

-Ballot papers stored haphazardly, unprotected from bad weather.

-A number of polling station reports were lost in the Local Results Compilation Centres (CLCR). [I]n certain compilation centres, such as in Kinshasa and Kasaï Occidental, the disappearance of a significant quantity of vote envelopes was reported.

The AETA-EurAc observation mission notes that these problems derive from the shortage and inadequacy of available logistical means, the lack of attention given to this crucial stage of the electoral operations and from the chaotic storing of voting papers. [It also observed:]

-The non-publication of preliminary tallied results at the centres in violation of what is stipulated in electoral law.

-The CLCRs operated day and night in order to meet the tight calendar set by the CENI. However there was a problem with transparency and access to the CLCR in Kinshasa, where at one point the CENI ordered the national observers and witness to leave the centre.

These observations suggest that the results tallying process did not take into account all votes cast by the electorate. The chaotic and non-transparent tallying process has had obvious consequences for the acceptability of the results by the various competing actors and the electorate. This paves the way for all kinds of speculation, including over the possibility of electoral fraud.

Finally, as regards the provisional results for the presidential elections, although we are still collecting observation data on this, we have already noticed in some cases, for example, in polling stations in Lubumbashi ville, serious gaps between the results published by CENI and our observers’ results. Ongoing efforts to compare results data will indicate if the same situation was replicated elsewhere in the same province or, indeed, in other provinces.

Taking into account the above-mentioned irregularities and incidents, it should be recognised that 2011 presidential and legislative elections did not uphold internationally-recognised election principles, such as transparency, credibility, liberty and universality. Some of the observed irregularities and incidents are likely to damage the electorate’s confidence in the credibility of the elections.

In light of the CENI’s publication of the provisional results, AETA and EurAc [have made] recommend[ations to CENI, political parties and the Supreme Court of Justice]:

To read these recommendations, see the full statement below.

The Original Statement
On Friday 9 December the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) published the provisional results for the presidential election held on 28 November 2011.

However, as detailed in our statement of 1December, AETA and EurAc deplore the high number of irregularities and deficiencies that have continued to mar these elections, including during the vote-tallying process.

Our election observers noted the following:
a. The polling stations

– Many voters were not able vote, unable to find their names on the electoral lists, or locate their polling station. This was partly a consequence of inadequate communication by the CENI to the electorate following numerous observed incidents and amid much confusion. Many voters became disoriented by the delocalisation of their voting station, for example in Kinshasa in Tshangu, Lukunga, Mont Amba and in Funa. This had an impact on voter turnout, which was 58.8% despite the electorate’s strong enthusiasm to go to the polls . This decrease in turnout was also a consequence of insecurity in some polling stations in Kinshasa, in Kananga, in Mbuji Mayi and in Lubumbashi.

– Acts of violence in many polling stations prevented the electorate from voting calmly on election day. Stones were thrown in Kananga, at Centre Mpandilu/C. Katoka (Centre 11200). In Kalehe, in Sud Kivu, at Lwanga Institute, many people were unable to vote following a crush which left 2 wounded. Such incidents discouraged voters. In Kananga, Kasaï occidental, at Nganza Sud/C. Nganza Institute (voting site 11233), voting took place normally from 6.58am but stopped completely at 11am as the ballot papers and other electoral material were looted by the public which rose up in anger, reacting to disinformation.

– The dispersal of ballot papers, some of which ended up in hands of individuals not authorised by the CENI. There were insufficient ballot papers in some centres and polling stations. This was the case in Dibindi, in Mbuji Mayi at the Collège Moderne (centre 17754), where 3 boxes of legislative ballot papers were found in the office of the director and head of centre while voting was underway. The voters, having forced the door and smashed the windows of the director’s office, tore up the ballot papers as well as the CENI lists that accompanied them.

In Kasongo-Lunda territory, in Bandundu province, the Mulunda polling station received only 300 ballot papers for almost 4,000 voters. While in Dibulu, 100 ballot papers were supplied for 2,113 voters. In Kanapumba, there were only 90 ballot papers available for 1,000 voters, and in Kikwati, 105 ballot papers for 2,000 voters.

– Not all voting material was delivered by 28 November. Several polling stations functioned without the required polling station report (‘Proces-verbaux’), ink or polling booths (e.g. Centre 170098/A in Masina, Kinshasa). Where no polling booths were available (Centre 10509 and Centre 10513 in Ndjili, Kinshasa IV Tshangu), voting secrecy was not guaranteed. In E.P. BUPALU in the Golf/Kabulameshi district of Annexe commune (Lubumbashi) an absence of electoral material was reported.

– The excessive number of accredited political party witnesses meant in some cases that many other people were not able to vote by derogation, as insufficient ballot papers were available.

– Elections were not held in certain polling sites, as was the case at a site in Kalemba in Kasongo-Lunda.

– A number of polling station reports (Procès-verbaux) were not signed by the political party witnesses, leaving the record of the number of votes obtained by each candidate open to the risk of manipulation.

– The gap between the number of ballot papers received and the vote expressed in certain polling stations, such as in E.P Kola 2 (code 15091), in Zhina Bunkete in the territory of Kasongo-Lunda. These differences could lead to suspicions of electoral fraud.

Voter illiteracy in some cases meant that individuals were not able to vote for their preferred candidate. In absence of an adequate arrangement, this deepened the confusion around the voting process.

b. The results compilation centres

AETA-EurAc observation mission notes above all the chaotic manner in which the vote tallying operations took place. A number of flagrant incidents were reported, including:

-Ballot papers stored haphazardly, unprotected from bad weather. Badly stored and totally soaked ballot papers and polling station reports were observed. This could lead to problems with vote traceability in the event that disputes over the results require a recount, especially for the legislative vote.

-A number of polling station reports were lost in the Local Results Compilation Centres (CLCR). Others did not carry the signature of the relevant responsible people in the voting centres, contrary to article 140 and 52 of the electoral law and its application measures. Finally, in certain compilation centres the disappearance of a significant quantity of vote envelopes was reported. In the compilation centres in Kinshasa, for example, a significant number of envelopes went missing; the results for 1,989 polling stations were not compiled in Kinshasa. This situation was also observed in other centres in the town of Kananga in Kasaï Occidental.

The AETA-EurAc observation mission notes that these problems derive from the shortage and inadequacy of available logistical means, the lack of attention given to this crucial stage of the electoral operations and from the chaotic storing of voting papers.

-The non-publication of preliminary tallied results at the centres in violation of what is stipulated in article 56 of the electoral law application measures, paragraph 3.

-Signatures by witnesses were missing from some results tabulation sheets and compilation centre reports.

-The CLCRs operated day and night in order to meet the tight calendar set by the CENI. During the vote-tallying operations, observers organised themselves into relay teams to ensure their presence in the compilation centres day and night. However there was a problem with transparency and access to the CLCR in Kinshasa, where at one point the CENI ordered the national observers and witness to leave the centre.

These observations suggest that the results tallying process did not take into account all votes cast by the electorate. The chaotic and non-transparent tallying process has had obvious consequences for the acceptability of the results by the various competing actors and the electorate. This paves the way for all kinds of speculation, including over the possibility of electoral fraud.

Finally, as regards the provisional results for the presidential elections, although we are still collecting observation data on this, we have already noticed in some cases, for example, in polling stations in Lubumbashi ville, serious gaps between the results published by CENI and our observers’ results. Ongoing efforts to compare results data will indicate if the same situation was replicated elsewhere in the same province or, indeed, in other provinces.

Taking into account the above-mentioned irregularities and incidents, it should be recognised that 2011 presidential and legislative elections did not uphold internationally-recognised election principles, such as transparency, credibility, liberty and universality. Some of the observed irregularities and incidents are likely to damage the electorate’s confidence in the credibility of the elections.

In light of the CENI’s publication of the provisional results, AETA and EurAc recommend:
1. CENI

To urgently evaluate the state of electoral material stored at the compilation centres (CLCR) and reassure all the competing political parties that the votes obtained by their candidates will not get lost. As a matter of transparency and traceability, this exercise should be carried out in presence of witness and observers. We encourage CENI to set up efficient mechanisms for the compilation of the results of the legislatives vote.

To carry out an in-depth evaluation of these steps of the process in order to formulate efficient orientations for the requalification of the CENI’s work for the rest of the process.

To take into account reports by national and international observers in order to make necessary improvements to the process.

2. Political Parties

Make use of the appropriate institutions and laws to regulate electoral disputes and urge their supporters to refrain from violence in expressing their contestation of the presidential results;

To deploy a sufficient number of witness to the CLCR in order to ensure traceability of the legislative vote.

3. Supreme Court of Justice

To demonstrate independence and a sense of responsibility in handling election litigation, taking into consideration the problems with the presidential vote denounced by political parties and candidates. The Supreme Court should act transparently and credibly, proceeding, if necessary, to a recount and verification of votes. This depends on the Court members’ deep consciousness, a guarantee for safeguarding the country’s future and the respect of the will of the people expressed through the ballot box.

To open an independent investigation to look into the allegations of fraud relating to the 28 November vote.

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