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Cablegate: Drc Elections: African Observer Missions Give

VZCZCXRO2866
PP RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1249/01 2191518
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071518Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4550
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 02 KINSHASA 001249

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KPKO CG ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: DRC ELECTIONS: AFRICAN OBSERVER MISSIONS GIVE
POSITIVE REPORTS ON VOTING

REF: KINSHASA 1213 (NOTAL)

1. (U) Summary: Several African election observation missions
have released their preliminary statements regarding the
DRC's July 30 president and legislative elections. While
noting the logistical challenges poll workers faced, most
African missions declared the vote to have been conducted
successfully and peacefully. No African mission has yet
pronounced the elections free and fair, but the overall
initial sentiment from these groups has been that any
irregularities witnessed during the electoral process will
not have a major impact on the legitimacy or outcome of the
vote. End summary.

---------------------------------------------
AU: VOTE AN EXPRESSION OF COMMITMENT TO PEACE
---------------------------------------------

2. (U) The Peace and Security Council of the African Union
(AU) released its first post-election statement August 4. The
Council, which deployed 78 observers throughout the country,
commended the Congolese for going to the polls in large
numbers and in a peaceful manner. The Council noted that such
participation expressed voters' "commitment to peace,
security, stability, and democracy." The Council further
commended the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) for the
"quality" of the organization of the polls, despite the
enormous challenges it faced, including the size of the
country and the lack of infrastructure. Finally, the
statement appealed to all political and media actors to
refrain from making any statements that "could impact
negatively on the electoral process and the successful
conclusion" of the DRC's transition.

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3. (U) During an August 6 press conference in Kinshasa, the
head of the AU's observer mission Theophile Nata said several
"inconsistencies" were apparent during the July 30 election.
Nata in particular noted the destruction of some voting sites
and election material (reftel), voter lists not being posted
in some locations, and the massive size of legislative
ballots in certain districts. Nata added, though, that such
irregularities did not fundamentally undermine the
credibility of the elections themselves.

---------------------------------------------
SADC-PF: ELECTIONS PROVIDED FREEDOM OF CHOICE
---------------------------------------------

4. (U) The Southern African Development
Community-Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) observer mission
(composed of 155 members) released its preliminary statement
on elections August 3 in Kinshasa, concluding that elections
were "conducted under an environment that gave the people of
Congo the opportunity to express their free will to vote for
candidates of their choice." The SADC-PF mission stated such
conditions conformed to regional electoral norms and
standards. The SADC-PF statement noted several "good
practices" followed by the CEI and Congolese political
actors, including a largely free and peaceful election
campaign, a transparent and orderly voting operations
process, high voter turnout, and the non-intrusive presence
of police forces at polling stations.

5. (U) While the SADC-PF mission was generally satisfied with
the conduct of elections, it noted several weak points and
challenges which faced election workers. The statement said,
however, that such problems -- such as the lack of
electricity and delays in opening some voting sites --
affected only a small fraction of the 49,736 polling
stations. The SADC-PF statement condemned as well the few
isolated cases of violence that occurred immediately before
and during the elections in Kinshasa, Mbuji Mayi and Mweka
(reftel), but added that these incidents did not
significantly affect the electoral process. The SADC-PF
mission further urged the CEI and political actors to improve
their efforts in voter education, to increase the
participation of women, and to strengthen the capacity of
media watchdogs so as to better regulate campaign coverage.

--------------------------------------------- -
COMESA: OPERATIONS WELL ORGANIZED, TRANSPARENT
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (U) Much like its counterparts, the observer mission from
the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

KINSHASA 00001249 002 OF 002


congratulated the Congolese and the CEI for overcoming
enormous logistical challenges to hold successful elections.
The COMESA mission, in an August 2 preliminary statement,
noted that its observers considered the elections to have
been fairly well organized, conducted and managed in a
transparent manner, and that the overall atmosphere was
peaceful. COMESA observers said voters who went to the polls
July 30 were clearly able to express their wishes through the
ballot unimpeded. The COMESA mission, noting the difficulty
in collecting and tabulating results, called upon the
international community to continue supporting the CEI and
the DRC's electoral process to ensure the creation of a
democratic system.

--------------------------------------------- -
EISA: IMPERFECTIONS DID NOT JEOPARDIZE PROCESS
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (U) The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA),
which has conducted many voter education campaigns and
conflict resolution seminars in advance of the DRC elections,
also released August 2 an interim statement from its observer
mission. The EISA contingent declared that the elections were
conducted in a manner that allowed voters to express their
"democratic choice without hindrance," and congratulated the
Congolese for their "political maturity" and the peaceful
manner in which elections were conducted. EISA noted in
particular that the high voter turnout will "assist in giving
credibility" to the process and will "truly reflect the
wishes of the Congolese" themselves, thereby strengthening
democratic institutions. The EISA statement did note many of
the irregularities and problems encountered on voting day and
in the election campaign, such as unequal access to media,
isolated cases of violence, and political parties' seeming
lack of dedication to voter education. Nonetheless, the EISA
mission declared that the "imperfections" of the DRC's
elections were "not of a nature of jeopardize the outcome of
the process, or to put in doubt its sincerity and integrity."

--------------------------------------------- -
COMMENT: IMPORTANCE OF THE AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE
--------------------------------------------- -

8. (SBU) The African election observation missions may not
have fielded the largest observer teams in the DRC, but their
declarations on the elections certainly carry significant
weight. Initial statements from neighboring countries that
the vote was generally well organized and seemingly
transparent can help calm suspicions and lower post-election
accusations that the process was fraudulent or otherwise
"rigged." The European Union and the Carter Center are
perhaps the more prestigious election monitoring
organizations, but statements of support from African
countries are just as important in establishing the
credibility and acceptance of the post-transition GDRC. End
comment.
MEECE

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