DR Congo: The Post-Election Dynamic
3 May 2012:
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential and legislative elections, held late last year, were widely condemned as illegitimate, marred by fraud and violence. Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group's Central Africa Project Director, discusses the country's post-election dynamics and how the political system might be repaired. 4:36
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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential and legislative elections, held late last year, were widely condemned as illegitimate, marred by fraud and violence. I’m speaking today with Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director, about DR Congo’s post-election dynamics and how the political system might be repaired.
Why don’t you start by laying out a picture of what happened during last November's election in Congo?
The last presidential and legislative elections in the DRC were fraudulent. There were two very clear reports by the Carter Center and the European Union Electoral Missions that actually demonstrated that the results of those elections were not credible because of the whole disorganization of the electoral process and also because of many incidents during the vote and because the counting process also was absolutely not transparent
So what specifically were the incidents that you’re referring to?
There was ballot stuffing. The electoral personnel of the electoral commission prevented the observers from accessing the compilation centers. There have been a lot of incidents in opposition strongholds that show that actually the Congolese authorities tried to manipulate the vote.
Shortly after the election, the UN reported that Congolese security forces carried out serious human right abuses and they asked the Congolese government to investigate this. Have they done so?
So far, we have no news that the Congolese government has done so. He of course, as usual, reassures the United Nations that he will collaborate with an independent inquiry. We are waiting for the result of this inquiry. Right now, the Congolese government is actually very busy with the rising crisis in eastern Congo.
How have the opposition parties reacted to the election, and is there a risk of violence?
The opposition parties are very weak, and I am talking about the democratic opposition. The main opposition party, the UDPS, only had 41 MPs in parliament, and its leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, is busy isolating himself with a very radical strategy in Kinshasa. So, the post-electoral situation is such that the democratic opposition is not very strong or credible. Therefore, what is rising is, once again, the opposition of armed groups in eastern Congo.
What are the implications of the UDPS firing 33 of its members for serving in parliament?
Etienne Tshisekedi, the leader of the UDPS is definitely isolating himself from his own people, because those MPs want to sit in parliament, definitely. So there is going to be, maybe, an internal clash within the UDPS. One of the consequences of this is parliamentary opposition is going to get weaker and weaker.
The president has named his new government with 28 ministers. Most are technocrats and not very well-known by the public. Only two ministers are members of the opposition and only six ministers remain from the former government. What are the implications of this?
The new government is presented as a government of technocrats, which basically, on the Congolese scene, means that there are no political heavyweights in that government, first. Secondly, this is not an inclusive government. You don’t have an opposition member that has been appointed or people who are close to the opposition. It’s very much the confirmation that the ruling party is reinforcing its grip on the government--and the prime minister is actually now from the ruling party, which was not the case over the last five years. Therefore this new government means that, firstly, the presidency will continue to have the main role and not the ministers. And secondly, that the ruling party, the PPRD, has managed to get the post of prime minister, and they have been claiming that post for years and years.
Edited for print