On 1 December 2011, the Joint Electoral Observation Mission in the DRC released a statement on the DRC’s latest elections. Whilst they praised the fact that most people were able to vote successfully, they underlined the many electoral abuses that their observers witnessed throughout the country. Congo NOW! has reproduced this here, in condensed form. If you would like to read the original statement in its entirety, please scroll down to read it at the end of this page.

The statement in condensed form:
The AETA (Agir pour des Elections Transparentes et Apaisées) and EurAc (European Network for Central Africa) Joint Electoral Observation Mission supports the elections of 28 November in the DRC, and praises the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the Congolese public in ensuring that voting went ahead, despite logistical difficulties.

The elections took place in a highly varied climate, depending on the location. The AETA-EurAc mission is pleased that, for the most part, people were able to vote peacefully.

The AETA-EurAc observation mission deployed 12,000 observers across all of the DRC’s provinces. Observers have identified a number of incidents that have marred the process. These relate mainly to the deployment and managing of the electoral material and to the electorate itself.

On Election Day AETA/EurAc observers visited more than 15,000 polling stations and noted the following:

Numerous voters did not manage to vote or voted later than expected because of the late opening of the polling stations due to the late arrival or the lack of election material. In the St Boniface voting centre 10410, to which 13,330 voters were allocated, voting only got underway on Wednesday 30 November owing to a lack of ballot papers.

There was confusion around the voter lists and polling stations: this problem occurred in the majority of voting centres where numerous voters were not able to find their respective polling station because the late publication of the electoral lists and the lack of communication.

The large number of party witnesses who had not received appropriate training made the voting process difficult in many polling stations.

There was inadequate security for voters and electoral agents in several places, leading to violent incidents, including in Kananga (in Mweka, Luiza and Bena Leka).

The security of sensitive electoral material, in particular ballot papers, was not sufficiently guaranteed. In Kinshasa as well as in the provinces, non-authorised individuals were found in possession of ballot papers. This was the case in Masina SIFORCO (Kinshasa), Kananga (Kasaï Occidental), Bipembe (Kasaï Oriental) and many other areas. In such instances, popular vigilance gave way to frustration, anger and clashes between people or between people and the police in many cases.

Some polling stations were denied access to political party and independent candidate witnesses, including in Kinshasa and Idjwi, South Kivu province.

The observed lack of understanding of electoral procedures by some election officials, and the electorate’s ignorance of the procedures denote respectively the inadequate training of election officials and the lack of civic/voter education for the electorate, which were at the root of much trial and error and misunderstanding.

In general, vulnerable voters did not receive any particular help and attention.

Some candidates continued to campaign in and around the polling centres on election day, for example in polling station 21664 in the Institute MUHYAHYA South Kivu, 17332/W and N in the Ecole Primaire Kanshala.

Given these findings, the AETA-EURAC mission’s recommendations include:
– That the CENI fulfils its responsibilities to the nation by ensuring an objective, honest and transparent management of the election results to promote a peaceful post-election period.

– That the CENI should start preparing the technical and logistical capacity-building for the efficient management of the rest of the process

– That political parties respect fair-play in the democratic process and encourage their supporters to avoid violence.

– That the Congolese public maintain confidence in the electoral process underway.

– That the international community support the will of the people expressed through the ballot box.

Greater electoral civic education before the next elections.

The Original Statement
The AETA and EurAc joint electoral observation mission welcomes the holding of presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 28 November 2011.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) managed to organise the elections despite the logistical difficulties. AETA and EurAc encourage it to continue its work in order to complete the electoral process.

The joint mission welcomes the strong involvement by the Congolese public in this process. Voters took ownership and a stake in the electoral process, including through measures to create a secured environment in which the elections could take place. We also commend the hard work of the majority of CENI agents, who did a remarkable job in very difficult conditions.

We congratulate Congolese civil society’s determination and mobilisation to ensure a monitoring of the process from the beginning, despite the lack of material means and support for this work.

The elections took place in a highly varied climate, depending on the location. The AETA-EurAc mission is pleased that, for the most part, people were able to vote peacefully.

The AETA-EurAc observation mission deployed 12,000 observers across all of the DRC’s provinces. Our observers have identified a number of incidents that have marred the process. These relate mainly to the deployment and managing of the electoral material and to the electorate itself.

On Election Day AETA/EurAc observers visited more than 15,000 polling stations and noted the following:

• Numerous voters did not manage to vote or voted later than expected because of the late opening of the polling stations due to the late arrival or the lack of election material. As an example, in Kinshasa polling stations 170009 A/I, 170009A/G, 170009A/F in the Mama wa Bosawa school complex opened from 10am. The St Boniface voting centre 10410, to which 13,330 voters were allocated, was only able to get voting underway on Wednesday 30 November owing to the lack of ballot papers for the Presidential elections. This situation was experienced on a significant scale in many other voting centres.

• There was confusion around the voter lists and polling stations: this problem occurred in the majority of voting centres where numerous voters were not able to find their respective polling station because the late publication of the electoral lists and the lack of communication in this respect. In spite of CENI’s press release calling on those in possession of a voter card to vote in the centres where they were registered, it was observed that a many people in that situation were actually not received, and left the voting centres discouraged, having failed to vote.

• The large number of party witnesses who had not received appropriate training made the voting process difficult in many polling stations. As party witnesses voted by derogation, the already full derogation lists were no longer accessible to voters who had the right to be included.

• There was inadequate security for voters and electoral agents in several places. This translated into mob attacks on election officials in some cases, for example at voting centre 10392, the Diavanga school complex in Masina Petro Congo. Violent incidents were also observed in Kananga, in the territories of Mweka, Luiza, Kakenge, Mashenge, Bena Leka and Bagata cite.

• It must also be noted that the security of sensitive electoral material, in particular ballot papers, was not sufficiently guaranteed. In Kinshasa as well as in the provinces, non-authorised individuals were found in possession of ballot papers. This was the case at the Mputu voting centre in Masina SIFORCO, Kinshasa. In the provinces this irregularity was reported in Kananga, Kasaï Occidental (voting site 11200 Mpandilu, voting site 11192 of EP/Muntu), Kindu, Kikwit, Bolobo, Bipembe in Kasaï Oriental (polling station 17727 Institute TUIBAKAYI, polling station 17740 Institute Mutombo Katshi, polling station 754 Collège Moderne). In response to the straying of sensitive election materials, popular vigilance gave way to frustration, anger and clashes between people or between people and the police in many cases.

• Our observers noted the denial of access to political party and independent candidate witnesses in some polling stations. This was the case for example at the St Martin polling station in Kinshasa, N’djili, l’Institut Litteraire de Ngiri-Ngiri, polling station number 10621. Also in Idjwi, South Kivu province, polling station 21622/A and D.
• The observed lack of understanding of electoral procedures by some election officials, and the electorate’s ignorance of the procedures denote respectively the inadequate training of election officials and the lack of civic/voter education for the electorate, which were at the root of much trial and error and misunderstanding.

• In general, vulnerable voters, notably the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women, those with children and sick people, did not receive any particular help and attention.

• The observer mission also notes that some candidates continued to campaign in and around the polling centres on election day, for example in polling station 21664 in the Institute MUHYAHYA South Kivu, 17332/W and N in the Ecole Primaire Kanshala.

Given these findings, the AETA-EURAC mission recommends:

– That the CENI fulfils its responsibilities to the nation by ensuring an objective, honest and transparent management of the election results to promote a peaceful post-election period.

– The CENI must ensure honest and fair communication with political actors involved in the process for the responsible publication of the election results and the subsequent process.

– The CENI should start preparing the technical and logistical capacity-building for the efficient management of the rest of the process

– The security services must remain neutral in their work to provide security for the people and the process

– Political parties must respect fair-play in the democratic process and encourage their supporters to avoid violence.

– The Congolese public must stay the course, maintain confidence in the electoral process underway and mobilise for the organisation of credible and transparent provincial and local elections, to guarantee participatory democracy.

– The public must avoid any political manipulation and instrumentalisation which would lead them into acts of violence and destruction.

– The international community must support the will of the people expressed through the ballot box.

– To start supporting electoral civic education of the population ahead of the next round of elections.

EURAC and AETA encourage Congolese civil society to become more involved in accompanying the electoral process and in civic education.

We are continuing to mobilise observers in the compilation centres in order to guarantee respect for Congolese citizens’ vote and we ask that the compilation process is conducted in a transparent and credible way

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