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Cablegate: Drc Elections Sitrep 3: Smooth Operations

VZCZCXRO5067
PP RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1211/01 2111457
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301457Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4493
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001211

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KPKO CG ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: DRC ELECTIONS SITREP 3: SMOOTH OPERATIONS

REF: A. KINSHASA 1210

B. KINSHASA 1209

1. By late afternoon, most areas of the country have
reported large but orderly numbers of voters, competent poll
workers, and helpful police. Report after report has
described patient lines of Congolese voters, some dressed in
their Sunday best, but devoting this particular Sunday to
participation in their history. Abbe Apollinaire Malu Malu,
president of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI),
reported at 14:00 local time that the elections were
proceeding very smoothly, despite occasional and inevitable
glitches. Post has communicated with other diplomatic
missions as well as with international observer groups --
such as the Carter Center, COMESA, the EU, SADC-PF, and EISA
-- and the consensus seems to be that this stage, the
democratic process is so far going well.

2. Some problems are inevitable, but at this time none of
them appear overwhelming. Several Mission observers report
that electricity (always iffy) is not available in some
voting centers, leaving voters groping to mark their ballots
in dark interior rooms. In these cases, some voters are
taking their ballots outside of the voting booths, then
returning to the dark with their finger placed firmly over
the candidate's name and photo. Others report that the
booths have been turned around to take advantage of natural
light from windows, leaving the entire process open to the
observers. No observers reported any intimidation; rather,
it seems like the resilient Congolese are simply adapting to
the inevitable, and sacrificing secrecy for accuracy.

3. In a Kinshasa-based phenomenon, other observers have
reported an unexpected response to the problem of managing a
6-page ballot and a limited number of ballot boxes (urns).
In some voting sites, the harried CEI workers are simply
telling voters to submit only the single page with the
voter's preferred candidate to make the process of folding
and depositing the ballot into the urn a little more
efficient. Additionally, many observers noticed that the
urns were already reaching capacity before noon, with little
prospect of voting centers receiving additional urns. In
some cases, the CEI workers used supplemental presidential
urns (orange) to replace the full National Assembly urns
(white). In at least one other case, the president of the
voting center offered to empty the full urn (in full view of
all relevant witnesses) into plastic bags, seal the bags, and
put a new seal on the emptied urn for further use.
Subsequent reports of MONUC transport delivering additional
urns to some voting centers hopefully rendered such actions
unnecessary. In all of these cases, the CEI will have to
make an executive decision about how to handle such
discrepancies, and whether or not the votes will be
considered valid.

4. One of the most problematic reports concerns the conduct
of some of the Congolese observer groups. In addition to
international observers, there are national observers as well
as political party witnesses at each voting center and
polling station. In most cases, the observers have simply
watched the proceedings without attempting to interfere. In
others, however, the witnesses have been more activist,
giving advice, telling voters where to go and what to do, and
folding ballot papers for voters. One observer reported two
or three witnesses shoving into the voting booth (and thus
out of public view) with a succession of elderly voters --
some of whom clearly needed assistance, some less obviously
needing their help.

5. The last issue which arose concerned reports of registered
voters selling their ID cards, and of other surprised voters
(without ink on their fingers) being turned away after CEI
officials advised them that, since their name was already
crossed off the voters' list, they had apparently already
voted. In one case, an observer reported watching a voter
who appeared to be about 15 years old placing his ballot in
the urn; when the observer asked to see the voter ID card,
the photo did not match the voter. Such reports are rare,
but troubling.

6. Despite these problems, however, the vote has so far gone
surprisingly well. Nationwide turnout appears very high in
the East -- in the Kivus, Ituri, and Katanga province. As of
15:00 local time, many polling sites had very short lines,
indicating that most people voted early. Many observers
reported that in the voting centers that they visited,
turnout by noon had already reached 50%, if not higher. As

KINSHASA 00001211 002 OF 002


Malu Malu noted today, given that there are over 49,000
polling stations, exceptions and problems at a few are not
nearly as remarkable as the smooth operations at the majority.

7. The voting centers are scheduled to close at 17:00 local
time, although anybody still in line at that time will be
allowed to vote. The preliminary count will begin when the
final voting has ended. Mission observers, along with other
international observers, will remain at some stations and
will witness the preliminary count.
MEECE

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