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Congo (Kinshasa): From Votes to Security?
Oct 31, 2006 (061031)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Voting went peacefully in presidential runoff elections in the
Democratic Republic of Congo on October 29. And both contenders
have promised not to resort to force to contest the results. But
there is still a significant threat of violence as the votes are
While most observers see the election success as a "moment of hope"
for the Congo, there is also agreement that fundamental issues of
security, corruption, and governance, as well as how to sustain
international funding for reconstruction, are still unresolved..
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains two recent UN reports, an oped
by Jason Stearns and Michaela Wrong, and excerpts from the
executive summary of a policy report from Refugees International.
For updates on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, see
http://www.monuc.org. Previous issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin on the
country are available at http://www.africafocus.org/country/congokin.php.
Other recent commentaries, including the broader context as well as
the elections, include:
International Crisis Group
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Congolese Voted in Peace
United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo
October 29, 2006
By Oscar Mercado
In spite of the heavy rain that disrupted the displacement of the
voters in Kinshasa and in other cities of the country, the historic
vote of Sunday 29 October, 2006 took place in peace. The
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) mentioned two isolated
incidents in Equator province which caused at least one death.
"The Independent Electoral Commission is pleased to inform the
national and international public opinion that the votes of 29
October 2006, for the second round of the presidential election and
the provincial legislative elections took place normally on the
whole national territory," indicated a communiqu‚ of the IEC.
However, the Commission draws the public opinion attention to two
"serious incidents" that occurred in the Equator province and
caused at least one death in the locality of Bumba. The IEC
announced that a new vote will be organized on Tuesday 31 October
in 12 centers of this district.
The IEC president, Apollinaire Malu Malu, didn't give any
indications on the turnout of the polls because some offices
remained even open. According to an initial estimation made by
observers and the media, the participation at the second round was
less substantial than at the first round of the presidential
election, last 30 July.
In spite of the heavy rain that fell on Kinshasa and few other
cities in the west of the country, the Congolese went to the polls
to choose their future president, between the two candidates,
Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba, and their provincial deputies.
Mr. Malu Malu thanked all those who contributed to the success of
this day, in particular the international and national observers
and the witnesses of the political parties. And he asked them to
continue monitoring the counting of the votes.
The provisional results of the second round of the presidential
election should be announced by the CEI at the latest next 19
November according to the electoral calendar.
As to the provisional results of the provincial elections, they
will be declared on 5 December, according to the same calendar.
DRC: Kabila, Bemba pledge to keep the peace after poll
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Networks
[This material may not necessarily reflect the views of the United
Nations or its agencies.]
Kinshasa, 30 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - The Democratic Republic of Congo's
incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his challenger in Sunday's
presidential election run-off, Jean-Pierre Bemba, have pledged to
respect the results and promised that whoever loses the poll would
not resort to violence.
Representatives of both men signed a post-election declaration of
intention document on Sunday, in which they promised that the loser
would renounce force. They pledged that any poll disputes would be
resolved legally, as required under the election law.
The document requires that, in the event of unrest, both candidates
would publicly appeal to their supporters to keep the peace.
The agreement also stipulates that the winner ensure the personal
safety of the loser and that his property and financial assets be
respected in line with national and international norms. The
loser's bodyguards would also be accorded respect, according to the
The losing candidate would support in full the establishment of
institutions and engage in politics without resorting to acts of
direct or indirect violence, it says. He will be guaranteed the
freedom of movement to visit all part of the country, it added.
Observers welcomed the accord, but expressed some doubts over its
"Congo is the winner here because today we can say that the results
of the second round are not going to help create the scope for
further fighting like that which occurred during the first round,"
Jean-Marie Labila, a political analyst at the University of
Kinshasa and adviser to the Ministry of International Cooperation,
Three days of heavy fighting between Kabila's and Bemba's security
guards after the announcement of the provisional results of the
first round of the presidential elections left at least 23 people
dead in Kinshasa. The violence only ended with the intervention of
the United Nations Mission in Congo, the European Union force and
African Union envoys.
Other analysts said peace would depend on the sincerity of both
"The accord was signed under international pressure, but if the
margin is wide, the winner will assume a certain arrogance and can
isolate the loser," said Philippe Biyoya, professor of political
science at the Protestant University of Congo.
Struggle for a Functioning Congo
Jason Stearns and Michela Wrong
in Financial Times, 4 August 2006
[Jason Stearns is senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.
Michela Wrong is author of In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz: Living on
the Brink of Disaster in the Congo]
With votes still being counted after Congo's elections on Sunday,
it is too soon to determine who has the lead in the chaotic tally.
Joseph Kabila, the current president, and Jean-Pierre Bemba, a
former rebel leader, appear to be frontrunners, with political
newcomer Oscar Kashala also making a strong showing. But much more
important than who wins is that the country's first multi-party
poll in four decades appears to have come off without serious
violence. This is a tribute to the international community's $6bn
investment in the country since 2001 - five years in which a peace
deal was signed, ending a war that claimed millions of lives in the
But the vote is not the culmination of the peace process, nor does
it alone guarantee a stable democracy. The elections will mean
little unless state institutions become far more functional. The
final vote count itself still has the potential to create a new
class of disenfranchised politicians eager to use any means to
regain power. To prevent this, the international community must
invest more in creating all the other fundamentals of a legitimate
democracy with appropriate checks and balances: a strong
parliament, independent courts and a genuine sense of government
These are not abstract needs: corruption is one of the biggest
killers in this country. A brief encounter in the hills of eastern
Congo illustrates the point. Three women were walking in front of
us on a dirt trail recently, each weighed down by a 100-pound sack
of flour. Sitting on the path was a soldier with his AK-47 between
his knees. The women dumped their bags on the ground and, without
being asked, handed over the equivalent of 20 cents - almost half
their daily wages. As they lifted their bags, the soldier grinned
at us and said: "Chai yangu - my tea."
Multiply this one incident by tens of millions of Congolese who
face the same petty yet devastating corruption every day and you
understand why people here see their state primarily as a predator.
It is not there to serve its citizens but to run a massive
extortion racket. The government provides next to no healthcare,
education or even security for its citizens. In a recent survey
carried out by the World Bank, Congolese were asked how they would
treat the state if it was a person. "Kill him" was a frequent
Predation and the failure of state institutions help explain the
"Congolese paradox": a country that remains one of the poorest in
the world in spite of its enormous mineral wealth. Congo contains
some of the largest deposits of copper, cobalt, diamonds and gold
but 80 per cent of the population makes less than a dollar a day.
Almost a third of the population only eats once a day.
The challenge is to transform a predatory government into one that
actually delivers services. The international approach has focused
on "setting up systems". This means establishing payroll
mechanisms, retiring redundant staff and providing the
infrastructure for officials to do their work. These investments
have been crucial but, as a World Bank official explained, their
shortcomings are clear: "Systems are good - but if the people in
the systems are corrupt, you haven't got very far."
This past year, between 60 and 80 per cent of customs revenues were
estimated to have been embezzled, a quarter of the national budget
was not properly accounted for and more than $3m were stolen from
the army payroll. In spite of this, not a single Congolese official
has been convicted on corruption charges during the past three
years of transitional rule.
There are concrete steps that can be taken to remedy this
situation. First, life must be breathed into the different branches
of government. The parliament has launched some good initiatives,
including an audit of state companies and a review of mining
contracts, but it has not been able to push through any of its
recommendations. The incoming government will provide a new
opportunity to strengthen the legislature's impact at the national
and local level. Twenty-six new provincial assemblies will be set
up that could, if endowed with the necessary resources and checks
and balances, make local administration more accountable.
Similarly, the courts, which act as more of an appendix to the
executive branch than a check on power, must be given the salaries,
infrastructure and resources necessary to do their job and resist
corruption. Without international aid, this will be impossible.
Second, the Congo's resources must be made to benefit the whole
population. Much of the country's mineral wealth has been signed
away in the past few years to international companies. The terms of
many of these contracts barely benefit the Congolese state or
people. The parliament and the World Bank, which has invested
millions in reforming the mining sector, must pressure the
Congolese government to review these contracts and amend them if
More than 1,200 people continue to die every day in the Congo from
the humanitarian consequences of the conflict. Elections alone will
not bring an end to this tragedy but creating a functioning state
Seizing This Moment of Hope
October 17, 2006
For more than a decade, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
has struggled with one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
Yet, improbably, that situation has improved markedly over the past
few years. Seventy percent of the electorate has voted in the first
democratic contest for president in four decades; violence in the
east has eased, largely due to the presence of the UN peacekeeping
force, MONUC; and humanitarian response has improved even as
internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees begin to return
home. No longer is the DRC an intractable quagmire: it has arrived
at a moment of hope that must be seized.
The international community must now redouble its efforts to help
those still in need and further stabilize the country, to build on
the improvements made and protect its already substantial
investment. The priority is action - this is no time for efforts to
lag or attention to wander. The DRC is vital for strategic as well
as humanitarian reasons, with staggering potential as well as
tremendous suffering. Its vast natural resources could be a motor
for regional development and stability, but instead have fueled
regional conflict following the collapse of the Mobutu regime in
the 1990s. Four million people have died as a result, and 1.6
million remain displaced inside the DRC today. Despite the signs of
hope brought by the elections, fighting and displacement will
continue during the year to come, even as a new government takes
power and long-term development programs take root.
The most pressing humanitarian priority is increasing security for
civilians by reforming the Congolese armed forces, expanding MONUC,
and implementing the embargo on arms and natural resources. Pockets
of violence, displacement, and need persist throughout the east,
internally displaced people live just beyond the reach of
assistance, and attempts by the displaced to return home are
thwarted by fighting. The FARDC - the new Congolese national army
- is the most serious threat. Despite a process of integration
designed to create a professional defense force, the FARDC's
ill-trained and underpaid troops, a collection of former government
and rebel forces, are abandoned by their commanders, forcing them
to live off the backs of the population and opening the door to
brutal abuse - particularly rape.
Civilians also come under attack from local militias and rebel
groups seeking control over natural resources or fighting against
neighboring governments. Joint operations between the FARDC and
MONUC to subdue these groups have displaced hundreds of thousands
since January 2006, with little strategic gain. MONUC has come
under pressure from the U.S., its largest contributor, to pursue
such a military solution, but neither MONUC nor the FARDC has the
capacity to implement it.
In addition, the UN Security Council recently extended an embargo
on the flow of weapons and the natural resources that pay for them
to and from the DRC. MONUC again does not have the capacity to
monitor and enforce this embargo, despite a specific mandate to do
so, due to a lack of troops, equipment, and intelligence
capabilities. The embargo is crucial to choking off the source of
conflict in the DRC, but has never been respected. Rwanda and
Uganda have a particular role to play in this regard, and the
ongoing flow of arms from their territories into eastern DRC
demonstrates their failure.
In the ever-widening areas where peace makes assistance possible,
more humanitarian funding and continued coordination between
agencies remain critical. ... A new initiative, the Rapid Response
Mechanism, has performed well by establishing NGO teams that can
respond quickly to new displacement crises with shelter and
household kits, food, and water. In terms of return and
resettlement, however, the response so far has been slow. Given the
scale of the problem, donors and agencies need to identify the
areas of return that they will assist first, focusing on those that
will draw the largest number of displaced or that are most at risk
of renewed fighting. They will need to meet basic humanitarian
needs first, then move swiftly to ensure the ongoing safety of the
population as well as access to markets, clean water, education,
and health care.
Humanitarian response for both displacement and return is dependent
on funding - and funding for the crisis in the DRC is completely
inadequate. If the objective is minimum standards of assistance for
all who need it, then donors are not providing the required
resources. The problem is compounded by the fact that humanitarian
action in the DRC is expensive: distances are long, infrastructure
non-existent, and corruption endemic. The United Nations laid out
the most comprehensive picture to date of humanitarian needs and
proposed responses for the DRC in its 2006 Action Plan, yet donors
have not taken the appeal seriously, supplying only one-third of
the requested $680 million. Donors have begun contributing more to
longterm development programs, but the shift is creating a gap in
short-term assistance that could save lives now. The European
Union, in particular, has cut off support for humanitarian
assistance before its development funding has become available.
Improvements in security, assistance, funding, and coordination are
humanitarian imperatives for the DRC. The hope fostered by
improvements over the past few years, capped by the recent
elections, must drive the Congolese people, their government, and
the international community - the United States and other leading
international actors, regional actors, donor agencies and
appropriators, the United Nations, NGOs, and the media - to
redouble efforts to stop the killing and displacement of civilians,
meet the basic needs of those affected by the conflict, and help
people get home and rebuild.
Refugees International therefore recommends that:
- The DRC request that the United States and other donors invest in
the FARDC by increasing salaries, extending and improving training,
and supporting the prosecution of soldiers and their superiors as
necessary for abuses, especially rape.
- The new Congolese government request, and the UN Security Council
authorize, a twelvemonth expansion of MONUC, adding four additional
battalions to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian
response; deter armed groups while encouraging their disarmament
and demobilization; support FARDC reform; and enforce the embargo
on weapons and natural resources.
- Rwanda and Uganda begin enforcing the embargo on weapons and
natural resources, with the U.S. and the United Kingdom, as
supporters of the two countries, assisting them as well as holding
them accountable (through the UN Security Council if necessary) for
- The new president of the DRC appoint a high-level coordinator for
humanitarian affairs; the new prime minister promote the most
technically qualified staff to head relevant ministries at both the
national and provincial levels; and the new national assembly
establish a committee to monitor humanitarian needs and response.
- The DRC government, donors, UN agencies, and NGOs work together
to strengthen the Rapid Response Mechanism and improve IDP camp
management and assistance to survivors of rape. In addition, donors
must resolve current food shortages by increasing contributions to
the World Food Programme.
- Donors increase their contributions for humanitarian response in
the DRC, including security and peacekeeping, humanitarian
assistance, and coordination.
- Donors, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the DRC, and the World
Bank work to manage the shift from humanitarian to development
funding, ensuring that implementing agencies do not have to suspend
projects and lay off experienced staff during the transition.
- The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and
UNDP complete the rollout of the Early Recovery Cluster and link it
firmly to the Protection Cluster so that IDP and refugee return is
voluntary and safe as well as rapid.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
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