US Senate committee ponders Congo election theft

KPFA Weekend News, 12.17.2011



Joseph Kabila, incumbent president of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his Republican Guard, formerly known as the Presidential Security Guard. Kabila now claims to have been re-elected, despite European Union, Carter Center, and Catholic Church election observer teams' reports that the election was massively fraudulent. KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones: On Thursday, December 15th, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the political crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where both incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his leading challenger Étienne Tshisekedi claim victory in the chaotic presidential election polls held in the final days of November. Speakers reported that European Union observers said that 1.6 million ballots were not counted, that original tally sheets were not saved, and, that supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila had organized a massively fraudulent election which disenfranchised Congolese voters.  They also reported that Congolese people have been threatened, subjected to violence, and even killed by incumbent President Kabila's Presidential Guard, and that an unidentified number of young men have been abducted and driven to undisclosed locations.  KPFA's Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: The U.S.-based Carter Center election observer mission said that some areas in eastern Congo were showing 100 percent turnout with 100 percent of the votes going to Kabila and that one district of Katanga Province in the east was even showing turnout above 100%.
Even the conservative International Crisis Group, an organization of international capital managers, former heads of state, foreign ministers, generals, high level officials and international lawyers, has said that “the U.N., donors and regional leaders must avoid statements that could legitimize a badly flawed vote and destroy what is left of their credibility in the Congo.” “No leader,” they also said, “should be congratulated until all disputes are resolved.”
Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Washington D.C.-based Friends of the Congo, says, however, that the election was so badly handled that the results cannot be reconstructed so as to resolve disputes.
Maurice Carney: The truth be told, there really is no way for the independent electoral commission to verify the results, because the results do not exist. Many people argue for the results that were published by the independent electoral commission to be cross-checked against the results from the polling stations. But in many instances, the independent electoral commission does not have the results from the polling stations, and in Kinshasa, for example, in one of the reports that came out, 2,000 polling stations’ results were invalidated. They couldn’t find them. And those 2,000 polling stations was equivalent to three quarters of a million votes, just in Kinshasa alone. And there’s no way to verify, validate or anything, because they just don’t exist. Vanished, for whatever reason.
KPFA: Eric Kamba, Congolese exile and social worker with the Boston-based Congolese Development Center, agrees that a recount would not establish accuracy.
Riot police beat demonstrators marching to meet opposition candidate Étienne Tshisekedi at a Kinshasa airport on November 26, 2011, two days before the polls. Photo: Reuters Eric Kamba: The International Crisis Group were saying something about, among other ways of resolving this problem, would be for the National Electoral Commission to recount the ballots. I’m against that because we all know how many ballots were pre-fixed. So we cannot go that way, trying to recount, because by now, all these ballots were coming even after the election was over. They’re going to recount, they’ll find that Kabila has more votes than anybody.
KPFA: The International Crisis Group said that if the opposition takes to the streets, the scale of bloodshed is difficult to predict, and warned that even splits within the army are possible. Tshisekedi has asked his supporters to remain calm and prepare for nonviolent protests next week.
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones:  That was KPFA's Ann Garrison on the political crisis precipitated by election fraud and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  For more information, and more Congolese voices, as well as a video record of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, see the website of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper,


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