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Cablegate: Drc Elections: The Day After

VZCZCXRO5866
OO RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1213/01 2121437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 311437Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4496
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINSHASA 001213

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KPKO CG ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: DRC ELECTIONS: THE DAY AFTER

REF: KINSHASA 1212 (NOTAL)

1. (U) Summary: Despite some expected technical and
logistical difficulties, coupled with isolated incidents of
violence and intimidation in the Kasai provinces, the DRC's
July 30 presidential and legislative elections were held in a
largely calm and orderly fashion. Voter turnout nationwide
appears to be high nationwide -- particularly in the eastern
part of the country -- and certainly greater than the
country's December constitutional referendum. Police and
security forces appeared well-trained and maintained order
where necessary. As voting winds down in areas where polls
were kept open because of logistical problems on election
day, the count is underway, though official results will not
be known for another three weeks. End summary.

2. (SBU) Voters in the Democratic Republic of Congo headed to
the polls July 30 for the country's first free multi-party
election in more than 40 years. The DRC's 25.7 million
registered voters chose among 33 candidates for president,
and 9,709 candidates for 500 seats in the National Assembly.
U.S. Mission observers, as well as those from many Congolese
and international observation missions nationwide, report
operations were generally smooth and orderly, with voters
coming out to cast ballots in large numbers. Independent
Electoral Commission (CEI) officials said turnout appeared to
be very high in the eastern provinces. In Kinshasa, where
voter participation was around 40 percent for the December
constitutional referendum, the CEI and other observers report
turnout to be noticeably higher. Turnout appears to have been
lowest in Eastern and Western Kasai provinces -- the
strongholds of the opposition Union for Democracy and Social
Progress (UDPS), which boycotted elections -- due in part to
voter intimidation.

3. (SBU) MONUC and CEI officials said voting operations will
continue July 31 in the cities of Mbuji Mayi and Mwene Ditu
(Eastern Kasai) and Mweka (Western Kasai) to allow voters who
did not have to opportunity to cast ballots yesterday to do
so today. These affected sites will be open for the
regulation eleven hours for voting and then ballots will be
counted. As reported reftels, four polling stations in Mwene
Ditu were set on fire early in the morning of July 30, while
134 voting kits in Mbuji Mayi were destroyed in a fire July
29, preventing some polling sites from opening. In Mweka
(approximately 40 miles northwest of Kananga), MONUC reports
58 polling stations were destroyed by protesters who claimed
a National Assembly candidate and his wife were attempting to
buy votes with cash and had filled out fraudulent ballots.
MONUC officials said there was no proof of these allegations,
and that the security situation had improved enough by the
afternoon of July 30 to re-open some voting sites late in the
day. In Mbuji Mayi, some UDPS militants tried to intimidate
voters by calling for a "ville morte," burning tires in the
streets, and engaging in isolated acts of aggression against
the population.

4. (U) The voting sites affected by the events in the Kasais,
however, represent significantly less than one percent of the
nearly 50,000 polling stations that opened nationwide.
Reports from various international observer missions indicate
no other major security incidents took place, and police were
generally present to maintain order. Many observers commended
the professionalism of police officers assigned to provide
security at polling sites, noting that police took an active
role in keeping voting lines orderly and operations running
smoothly. In Kinshasa, police presence was noticeable
throughout the city, but did not appear to pose any threat of
voter intimidation.

5. (SBU) In many polling stations, vote counting is still
continuing July 31. Reports from observers in Kinshasa, Ituri
District, plus Bas-Congo and North Kivu provinces, indicate
many poll workers finished counting presidential ballots late
on the night of July 30, slept in the polling stations
overnight, then began counting legislative ballots the next
morning. While observers reported that voting operations
unfolded rather smoothly, several concerns were reported. In
Kinshasa, there were unconfirmed cases of voters using
fraudulent ID cards or selling their cards to others. Many
polling sites in urban areas -- particularly Kinshasa -- did
not have enough ballot boxes to hold the six-page legislative
ballots, resulting in some poll workers having to stack
ballots cast in a pile on top of the boxes themselves.
Difficulties were encountered as well in the counting
process, as the size and number of ballots made counting

KINSHASA 00001213 002 OF 003


time-consuming, especially as poll workers tried to ensure
the transparency of the process in front of observers and
political party witnesses. Observers also reported many poll
workers -- in addition to witnesses and Congolese observers
-- fell asleep during the vote counting as operations dragged
on well past midnight.

6. (SBU) Another difficulty expressed to observers was the
non-payment of salaries to CEI workers and police officers.
Many polling agents complained they had not received the
money promised by the CEI, although in some cases polling
center officials said the money would be arriving later in
the day. In some instances, poll workers even refused to
continue counting balloting unless they were first fed. Many
police officers questioned by Mission observers also said
they had not yet been paid. With the exception of those CEI
agents who suspended their work in order to eat, most all
other polling station personnel -- including the police --
completed their responsibilities July 30 out of a sense of
civic duty and did not create any security or operational
problems.

7. (SBU) Despite these anomalies, most Congolese appear to be
initially satisfied with the electoral process. Kinshasa's
newspapers -- even much of the opposition press -- are
declaring the elections to have been a success even while
noting some of the problems encountered. The electoral
process, however, is now entering perhaps its most difficult
phase as the counting continues and results start to become
known. The irregularities outlined above, along with many
others, will undoubtedly lead to a significant number of
electoral challenges in the weeks to come. Electoral losers
could well use any of these issues to contest results and
cast doubt on the legitimacy of elections, particularly if
the ballot compilation process continues for a long period of
time.

8. (U) To that end, CEI President Abbe Apollinaire Malu Malu
released the evening of July 30 the calendar for the next
round of elections, including dates for provisional and final
results for the presidential and legislative contests.
According to the new calendar, provisional results for the
presidential race should be announced no earlier than August
20, while final results are expected no earlier (following a
ruling on electoral challenges by the Supreme Court) than
August 31. For National Assembly elections, provisional
results will be announced on a rolling basis as they are
tabulated, ending by September 4. Following a two-month
period (stipulated by the DRC's electoral law) of examining
election challenges, the Supreme Court is expected to make
its rulings known by November 9.

9. (U) The CEI has set October 29 as the date for the second
round of elections, which will include voting for provincial
assemblies as well as a second-round of presidential
balloting, if necessary. (Note: If no candidate receives an
absolute majority in the first round, a runoff will be held
between the top two candidates. End note.) Should another
round of presidential voting be required, final results are
expected to be announced as early as November 30. According
to the CEI's calendar, if one candidate wins in the July 30
vote, he will enter into office by September 10; a victor in
the second round of voting would be inaugurated and assume
the office by December 10. (Note: These dates are determined
by the electoral law, which states that the newly-elected
president must take office within the 10 days following the
announcement of final voting results. End note.)

10. (SBU) Comment: Voting in the DRC, which has been a
logistical nightmare in many cases, came off much better than
most observers expected. The apparently high turnout is
encouraging, especially in light of the constant complaints
and distractions of the political naysayers. Certainly the
vote was not perfect, nor was it expected to be under the
conditions Congolese poll workers faced: no electricity,
extreme working conditions, the lack of voter education, and
no previous free elections in the country for more than four
decades. CEI officials showed initiative when attempting to
overcome some of the vote's logistical challenges, such as
the lack of ballot boxes or sufficient lighting in polling
stations. Such "innovations," however, may prove to be useful
fodder for potential election spoilers who may look for any
pretext to cast doubt on the fairness of the vote. The coming
weeks will be a crucial period. As results become known,
losers will have to accept results, and winners will have to
reach out to their former opponents. The CEI as well will

KINSHASA 00001213 003 OF 003


face the difficult task of managing expectations and keeping
the public regularly informed about each step of the
electoral process between now and the announcement of final
results. Overall, however, despite dire predictions by some
even within the DRC, the country's elections can at this
point be considered a success. End comment.
MEECE

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