RDC : « Les élections n’auront pas lieu le 20 décembre »

DRC: “The elections will not take place on December 20”

For political scientist Bob Kabamba, the announcement of the postponement should arrive this week.

On the night of December 8 to 9, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) announced the arrival in Kinshasa, from China, of the last containers of “sensitive documents” for the organization of the vote. Among these documents, the minutes which must collect the results of the votes, office by office during the election of December 20. In total, according to CENI figures, across the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are 75,478 polling stations awaiting these documents.

Ten days before the election, it’s impossible,” slice, explicit, Bob Kabamba, political scientist, professor at the University of Liège, returned this week from a trip to the DRC, particularly in the east of the country, still shaken by a war between M23 rebels, who are allegedly supported by the Rwanda, and the Congolese army, “reinforced” by Western mercenaries, wazalendos, volunteers including numerous members of Congolese criminal militias, but also, more recently, Burundian soldiers sent within the framework of an agreement between the Presidents Tshisekedi and Ndayishimiye.

“The Constitutional Court will announce this postponement”

An impossible patchwork to manage”, explains a specialist in military issues, regularly passing through Goma, who underlines the impact that this conflict has on the elections of December 20. “If elections were to take place, it is impossible to organize them in a large part of the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Some have already not been able to vote in the 2018 presidential election. How do you expect these people, immersed in horror for years, to still recognize themselves in the power of Kinshasa, a city located more than 1,500 kilometers away, who does not speak the same language and of whom we only perceive here the fluff of the parties organized by those in power. The welcome given to candidates close to the presidency of the Republic is indicative of this feeling of rejection by Kinshasa.”

Tshisekedi in the tough against Katumbi

The electoral campaign, which began twenty days ago, made it possible to realize the difficulties of the outgoing power. In the duel which pits him against his main challenger Moïse Katumbi, the head of state became aware of the popularity of the former governor of Greater Katanga who attracts tens of thousands of supporters to each of his stops when he, despite the State’s resources, struggles to mobilize. Félix Tshisekedi, without legitimacy, without a track record, leads his meetings like an outsider, trying to mobilize with promises after a barren first five-year term. “His only unifying argument is the war in the east and the desire to do battle with Rwanda, but he has been making his promises for months now and, on the ground, we are only seeing signs of change. defeats against the M23”, explains a member of Ituri civil society who insists: “We die a lot here. Military defeats are numerous. Entire battalions of young people, poorly equipped and poorly commanded, have been massacred in recent weeks without the authorities in Kinshasa caring.”

No one in the east has forgotten the promises made by Tshisekedi to set up army headquarters in Goma and to come and settle in the region himself to face the M23 offensive. “How do you expect us to still believe this man, who has kept none of his promises, when he comes back to ask for our votes?continues a member of a citizen movement based in the outskirts of Goma.

Goma, the capital of North Kivu, a city from which Bob Kabamba returns. “The tension there is enormous. The M23 resumed its offensive following the role played by the FDLR in the ranks of the Congolese army. Their progression is systematic, they are at the gates of Goma. The city could have fallen well before but the M23 did not want to be used to justify the postponement of the elections by Tshisekedi.”

150 million ballots

With less than ten days before the election, with or without M23, it is impossible to keep the calendar. In terms of ballots alone, it’s impossible. For the various ballots which must be held, at least 150 million ballot papers are needed to be transported in a country which is more than 80 times the size of Belgium, without infrastructure and, today, without the help of the United Nations, the all in the middle of the rainy season”, explains Bob Kabamba again. Several testimonies from legislative candidates collected throughout the country report flooded roads, towns or villages cut off from the world, and exceptionally long travel times. “It took me fifteen hours to do 70 kilometers on a motorbike because the roads were so flooded,” explains a Kwilu deputy candidate. In North Kivu, notables were prevented from reaching their villages, “even Minister Vital Kamerhe and Denise Tshisekedi, the first lady, were unable to return to their village because of flooded roads. Denis Kadima, the boss of the Ceni, is asking for new means of transport, it is a way of clearing customs. He has understood for some time that he will not be able to keep the schedule but everyone so far has continued to pretend, hoping that a pretext would arise to justify this postponement”continues Bob Kabamba.