"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

7.30.2006

to the limit, to the walls

Check out the Congolese election ballots. All of those pages are one ballot. The pink page on the left is all the candidates for president; the white sheets are the 9,000 parliamentary candidates. They're double-sided. You can see how hard it was for people to get them into the ballot boxes here. (Photo: BBC Africa)

It seems to have gone okay. There are some beautiful stories about old men dancing, and the usual cynicism on les terraces in Kinshasa. Anyone who says that Congolese voters aren't rational needs to meet this man, interviewed by the New York Times:

"Mr. Mabuisi, the 80-year-old voter who has lived through it all, said he voted for Mr. Bemba because he was worried what would happen if Mr. Bemba lost.

“'This is democracy,' he said, as he slipped his precious voting card in his pocket and walked away."

Mr. Mabuisi is exactly right - he's seen enough to know that Bemba (one of the vice-presidents and a former war belligerant) has the greatest capacity to cause trouble if he doesn't win. It's cynical and sad and entirely rational.

But today was a good day for Congo. The only real trouble was in Mbuji-Mayi, which is the stronghold of an opposition leader who boycotted the elections.

In Goma, things went just fine. I wish I could have been there.

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