Showing posts tagged as "joseph kabila"

Showing posts tagged joseph kabila

5 Dec
DR Congo rebels, govt prepare for peace talks | AFP
By Max Delany
GOMA, DR Congo — Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo were preparing for peace talks with government officials in Uganda, officials said Wednesday, as the pope urged the warring sides to reconcile.
Rebel group M23’s political leader Jean-Marie Runiga said his guerrillas were “ready” for talks, which are expected to include a raft of potential demands, including major political reform for the war-weary region.
The rebels’ lightning capture of the mining hub of Goma on November 20, eight months after the army mutineers launched an uprising against the government, had sparked fears of a wider war and a major humanitarian crisis.
The rebels, largely from the ethnic Tutsi community, pulled out of Goma at the weekend.
Uganda, despite being accused by UN experts of having provided logistical support to the M23, claims it strongly denies, will host and mediate the negotiations.
"We are hoping they will begin in the next few days", said James Mugume, a senior official in the Ugandan foreign ministry, adding no date had been set for them to begin.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
Photo: Church Mission Society (CMS)/Flickr

DR Congo rebels, govt prepare for peace talks | AFP

By Max Delany

GOMA, DR Congo — Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo were preparing for peace talks with government officials in Uganda, officials said Wednesday, as the pope urged the warring sides to reconcile.

Rebel group M23’s political leader Jean-Marie Runiga said his guerrillas were “ready” for talks, which are expected to include a raft of potential demands, including major political reform for the war-weary region.

The rebels’ lightning capture of the mining hub of Goma on November 20, eight months after the army mutineers launched an uprising against the government, had sparked fears of a wider war and a major humanitarian crisis.

The rebels, largely from the ethnic Tutsi community, pulled out of Goma at the weekend.

Uganda, despite being accused by UN experts of having provided logistical support to the M23, claims it strongly denies, will host and mediate the negotiations.

"We are hoping they will begin in the next few days", said James Mugume, a senior official in the Ugandan foreign ministry, adding no date had been set for them to begin.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP)

Photo: Church Mission Society (CMS)/Flickr

8 Dec

VOA: Congo Election Results Delayed Again

Scott Stearns | Kinshasa

Election officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo have again delayed the results of presidential and legislative elections.  Opposition supporters are rejecting partial returns that show President Joseph Kabila heading for reelection.

Electoral Commission head Daniel Ngoy-Mulunda says results will be postponed for a third day because officials have not completed comparing vote totals sent electronically with those recorded on tally sheets at each polling station.  He said it is a huge job that must be done right to assure the credibility of the totals announced. 

Results from last month’s presidential and legislative elections were to be announced on Tuesday.  That was postponed until Thursday and has now been pushed back to Friday.

With results from nearly 90 percent of precincts released, President Kabila looks set to win a second term as he is leading his closest rival by more than two million votes.  Analysts say the wait for complete results is less about the final figures and more about how supporters of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi will react.

There were many problems with these elections, including the late delivery of ballots that stretched voting to a third day in some areas.

The United States and Britain are urging the Electoral Commission to publish the results polling station by polling station, so parties can compare those figures with what was reported on the ground.  Britain’s Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell told parliament that results broken down by polling stations will help facilitate what he called “any necessary appeals.”

Human Rights Watch says at least 18 people were killed and 100 others were injured in violence leading up to the November 28 vote.

Opposition leaders have promised mass protests, if the electoral commission declares President Kabila the winner.

The International Crisis Group says the DRC must try to salvage what it calls “a badly flawed process.”  In a written statement, the Brussels-based group said, “counting has been as unruly as voting, and dangerously opaque.  Criteria for disqualifying ballots are unclear, with Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold, disproportionately affected. Most significantly,” the group says, “the electoral commission has refused to publish results by polling station, which would permit their verification by opposition parties and observers.”

Voice of America

AP: Kabila likely the winner of Congo election

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — After days of tension in Congo’s capital as the nation awaits election results, traffic began to flow once more, women selling cassava leaves took up their usual positions on the sides of roads and a few international airlines allowed their planes to resume flights to Kinshasa on Thursday.

But anxiety remained high that the Central African nation stretching over a territory as large as Western Europe would descend into violence, with supporters of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi vowing to take to the streets if President Joseph Kabila is declared the winner.

Outside the headquarters of Tshisekedi’s party, police fired tear gas and live rounds to push back the agitated crowd earlier in the day, witnesses said.

Victory seemed certain for the incumbent based on partial returns. Those results, representing 90 percent of the vote cast, gave Kabila a more than 14-point lead over Tshisekedi, who had 34 percent. In the capital’s best hotel, Kabila’s party had rented a ballroom and his supporters wearing T-shirts printed with his photograph were already holding a victory celebration before the election commission had named the winner.

Instead of issuing results as promised Thursday, the country’s election commission chief called a hasty news conference to announce another one-day postponement. “We need to double-check the results,” Daniel Ngoy Mulunda said late Thursday. “We are before a very demanding public.”

A spokesman for Tshisekedi’s party continued to say that Tshisekedi, not Kabila, had won and appealed to supporters to fight for their victory.

"We call on the Congolese people to mobilize themselves so as to protect this victory. Each person can do this in their own way, and in the manner that they see fit so that it will be felt everywhere, especially by this dictatorship which wants to impose a verdict based on cheating and on electoral fraud," said Jacquemain Shabani, the secretary general of Tshisekedi’s party.

The election was marred from the start by massive technical shortcomings, from the late delivery of ballots to the chaotic tabulation centers where ballots were being dumped by the millions. There were not enough computers for poll workers to enter the data. Frequent power cuts plunged counting centers into darkness. The election commission failed to meet its Tuesday deadline for releasing results. They announced a 48-hour extension, which has now turned into a 72-hour one.

Kinshasa residents continued to cross the river separating Congo’s capital from Brazzaville, the capital of the smaller Republic of Congo, Congo’s northern neighbor.

Bobette Nzeuzi, a mother of two was among the people waiting to cross the river swirling with eddies. She held her 5-month-old daughter on her lap, while her 7-year-old sat next to her. At their feet were three hastily packed bags, a bottle of deodorant poking out of a pocket with a half-closed zippers.

"The city is in trouble. My entire neighborhood has emptied out," she said as she waited for the boat to leave. "I wanted to leave earlier, but we had to wait for my husband to get paid."

Although international observers said the vote was flawed, they have stopped short of calling it fraudulent. Most say the irregularities were not widespread enough to have caused a change in outcome. However, the perception among opposition supporters is that Tshisekedi won, setting the stage for a confrontation.

Diplomats, who have met the 78-year-old Tshisekedi in recent days in an attempt to convince him to not incite his supporters to violence, say that the candidate is convinced of his victory.

A Western diplomat who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media said: “There’s a real disconnect. On the one hand he says, ‘Obviously, I will respect the will of the ballot box — but I won.’”

The impasse has led some analysts to say that the provisional results should not be published right away, and that instead steps need to be taken to create transparency in a badly muddled process. For example, foreign embassies and international observation missions have impressed on election officials the need to publish results by polling station.

So far, the results issued by the electoral commission have been aggregated by province, making it impossible for political parties to check if the vote count they witness inside a specific polling place was correctly tabulated at the regional level.

"A week after presidential and legislative polls, the Democratic Republic of Congo faces a political crisis that could plunge it back into major violence," according to a statement from the International Crisis Group. "To avert violence, Congolese authorities must take urgent measures to salvage a reasonably representative result out of a badly flawed process."

Congo’s enormous geography has proved challenging both for the electoral commission organizing the vote as well as for the country’s government. Its vast rain forests in the east still harbor vicious rebel armies, including remnants of the Interhamwe, the militia responsible for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The Associated Press

5 Dec

AFP: DRC fears vote results eruption

Kinshasa - DRC was on edge ahead of the announcement of last week’s election results with observers warning the conflict-prone country could descend into chaos no matter who is declared the winner.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila was ahead in early partial results for the November 28 polls but his main rival Etienne Tshisekedi issued thinly-veiled threats of violence if the trend was not reversed.

The tension in the vast central African country spilled over into the Congolese diaspora in South Africa, where Tshisekedi supporters clashed with police and tried to storm their embassy.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was due to announce provisional results on Tuesday, after partial tallies - mainly from Kabila strongholds - showed the incumbent edging his rival by 49 to 34%.

"With hours to go until the CENI publishes the provisional results, Kinshasa seems to be sleeping on a volcano that is ready to have an apocalyptic eruption," commented L’Observateur, a pro-ruling coalition newspaper.

On Saturday, veteran politician Tshisekedi made a veiled threat to Kabila and CENI chief Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, warning them to “respect the will of the Congolese people… If they don’t, they risk committing suicidal acts.”

"I call all our people to stay vigilant so that if needed they can execute the orders I will give them," said the challenger, a prime minister-turned-opponent of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Tshisekedi, who calls his supporters fighters, raised global concern and condemnation during the campaign when he called on his partisans to break into the country’s prisons and free their comrades.

Conflict alert

The International Crisis Group has put the country on its “conflict risk alert” together with Syria, citing clashes in Kinshasa on the eve of the polls, deadly rebel attacks in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi on voting day, and a call from several opposition candidates for the vote to be annulled.

Human Rights Watch has said at least 18 civilians have already died in election-related violence from November 26 to 28, most of them shot dead by Kabila’s presidential guard in Kinshasa. The government says it has launched an inquiry into the report.

The tense climate drove more than 3 000 people to leave Kinshasa at the weekend for Brazzaville, the capital of neighbouring Congo, which sits about four kilometres across the Congo River, an immigration official said on Sunday.

The number was higher than usual, but Congo-Brazzaville Interior Minister Raymond Zephirin Mboulou said it was not a crisis situation.

In Johannesburg, police fired rubber bullets to break up a group of demonstrators gathered in front of the ruling ANC party headquarters to protest South Africa’s alleged involvement in fraud in the Congo election, the local Sapa agency reported.

"They carried posters saying President Jacob Zuma should stay out of Congolese affairs,” Sapa reported, in reference to reports that definitive results of the contentious vote could be released in South Africa.

"Zuma has organised fraud in our election," one of the protesters, Mondeor Mwela, said.

In Pretoria, protesters tried to storm the DRC embassy, breaking windows and tearing down a gate.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP via News24)