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Has the UN Congo mission tried too hard to be impartial?

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At the very least, there should be a mechanical audit to get rid of "doublons," people who have registered more than once. Since registration was biometric, this should be relatively easy to complete in several days in Kinshasa. Getting rid of other abusers – children, foreigners, etc. – would probably have to be done in a decentralized fashion, by publishing the voting list locally and then allowing each community to verify the identities of those registered. This would be difficult and would take time, although the electoral law did require each registration office to publish the lists of those who registered there (they sometimes didn't).

The election commissioner said he would agree to two delegates from the opposition to have access to the voter register for an audit – the opposition put forward two such experts two weeks ago (Valentin Mubake from the UDPS and Jean-Lucien Busa from the MLC), but now the commissioner is questioning their qualifications. In the meantime, the electoral countdown clock is ticking. (Just after I published this posting, Radio Okapi announced that an agreement had been found for the audit – see here).

Here, the donor community could have weighed in; after all, they are providing a large amount of the funding and logistics for the election. Not only did they not push for this audit, the mission – along with several embassies – called for the swift adoption of the amendment to the electoral law that de facto confirmed the registration figures: it determined how many parliamentarians would be elected per district based on the number of voters there.

MONUSCO has been reluctant to criticize the preparation of elections. In part, as I have written here before, this fits in with the mission's aim of re-establishing good relations with the Congolese government. To an extent, they are right: Little can be achieved by the mission without cordial relations with their counterparts, and this relationship slipped badly during the latter year of Alan Doss' term. When Roger Meece arrived as the new head of the peacekeeping mission last year, he took it upon himself to re-dynamize that relationship, and has in large part succeeded.

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