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Congo election aftermath: some possible scenarios to avert crisis

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Finally, the process was flawed. Ballots were seen transported by private means – in several cases even by candidates – and in some cases ballot bags were opened and altered in violation of official procedures. The Carter Center suggested that in 15% of the compilation centers, security personnel could have influenced compilation; they also pointed out that some election official obstructed access for observers, including in the National Results Center in Kinshasa. In one flagrant case in the capital, the compilation center was closed and when it re-opened a large number of ballots had gone missing.
 
I should emphasize that none of the observers I have spoken with has weighed in on what he or she thinks the real results were. Tshisekedi would have to win 1.5 million votes and Kabila lose the same number for the final results to change.
 
What next? The opposition has until tomorrow to contest the results officially, or the Supreme Court may just confirm Kabila as the winner (at the moment of writing, I don't think the UDPS had done so). The opposition has little faith in the court, as in the run-up to elections a large number of new judges were appointed, many of whom reportedly favorable to Kabila. If a suit is filed by tomorrow, the Supreme Court only has until Saturday to consider it before it has to announce a winner. That amount of time is clearly insufficient given the complexity of the results.
 
Time is hence of the essence. Several solutions have been bandied about in diplomatic circles, some of which involve the creation of an independent commission to audit the results and propose a solution. Who should be a member of the commission and to whom should it report? Not clear – the United Nations is very unlikely to take on this kind of role, given the politics in the Security Council. The southern African body SADC, which sent the largest observation mission, is seen by the opposition as pro-Kabila, and South African President Zuma has approved of the official tallies. Others have suggested that a mediator or special envoy should be appointed. However, Kofi Annan has reportedly already turned down an offer – other names that have come up are John Kufuor and Alpha Oumar Konare.
 
What could a possible solution look like to electoral disputes? Here, again, different solutions are being mulled over. The official line, taken by many diplomats, is that legal avenues should be pursued – i.e. the Supreme Court. However, as mentioned, the opposition does not find this credible. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon added that mediation efforts should also be considered, notably by the National Mediation Commission. But many members of this commission, named shortly before the elections, are also considered to be close to the presidency.
 
Some suggest that there only needs to be a re-tally of the results put together at the 169 compilation centers (CLCR). That, however, would not be able to come to grips with the kind of fraud listed above. Others have suggested a re-vote in selected areas with reported irregularities, a solution that would not address problems of the voter register, but could address many of the other irregularities. Another solution that I have heard of would be to hold another presidential vote, just between Kabila and Tshisekedi – this run-off ballot, however, would contravene the electoral law, which states that the presidential ballot is a one-round, plurality-wins vote.
 
The longer it takes to decide on a way forward, the more likely it is that the Supreme Court will declare Joseph Kabila winner and Tshisekedi's supporters will take their frustrations to the streets.

– Jason Stearns blogs about the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region at Congo Siasa.

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