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

12.09.2011

DRC election results: quick reax


As expected, today's announcement of provisional election results by CENI (the Congo's independent national electoral commission) showed Joseph Kabila winning with 48% of the vote. Etienne Tshisekedi was the runner-up with 32% of the vote. Tshisekedi almost immediately rejected the results, declaring himself president from today forward. There are reports of celebrations in Lubumbashi and Goma, while civilians are hearing gunfire in Mbuji-Mayi and Kinshasa. Some members of the Diaspora are calling for violent uprising while others are pushing for peaceful resistance. Reuters is reporting that Congo-Brazzaville has readied a refugee camp in case Kinois start to flee violence in large numbers, but that doesn't seem to be happening just yet.

A few quick thoughts on what the provisional results tell us:
  • Full results with precinct-by-precinct data are available here. A quick perusal shows some serious anomalies (eg, 34% of Beni-territoire voters went for Tshisekedi? Goma-ville went heavily for Kamerhe (which is expected), but Nyiragongo (directly to the north) went heavily for Kabila, which seems really odd.). There seems to be no data for Ituri or Dungu available just yet.
  • We don't have precinct-level data from 2006 so it's impossible to do a statistical comparison, which would allow (albeit in limited fashion) a means of checking for fraud.
  • We will, however, be able to compare these results with those released by the Tshisekedi campaign and with those of other observers. As Jason Stearns notes, however, coverage of the polls by civil society actors and party observers was limited. The Catholic Church only had representatives in 24% of polling stations and the campaigns only covered 50-60% of stations each. While there may be a full set of verified, signed counts from each polling station countrywide, it will take a lot of time to compile that data. Given the delay in the announcement of results, there's not much time to do so before the December 17 deadline for constitutional court challenges.
  • The Carter Center has yet to release its fraud report. That's what I'm waiting for before doing any kind of comprehensive analysis. While it's obvious that there was fraud in the voting process, what's not yet clear is whether that fraud was systematic, planned, and only carried out by one party.
  • Almost nobody in Congo wants to be ruled by somebody named Mobutu. The deceased dictator's son Mobutu Nganza garnered only 1.57% of the vote.
  • Mbusa Nyamwisi garnered about 300,000 votes, mostly in his home region of far north North Kivu. This means he did significantly better than he did in 2006, when he got just under 100,000 votes.
  • Turnout was 58.81% of registered voters, which could be a reflection of a couple of factors. First, many Congolese are a bit disillusioned with democracy and have not seen benefits from voting in a regime, so many may have decided to stay home - especially when a day voting means a day of lost work and lost income. Second, the chaos of the electoral process in which many could not find their names on the rolls and were not assisted in doing so by CENI plus the failure to deliver ballots on time kept many, many who wanted to vote from being able to do so.
  • While the results will be difficult for many analysts to take seriously given Kabila's unpopularity in the country, it's important to remember that the vast majority of Congolese voters are still new to participatory democracy. Many may have been susceptible to subtle forms of manipulation. Openly distributing cash and gifts is standard practice in most DRC campaigns, and it's possible that many thousands of voters could have been convinced to cast their vote based on the gift of a t-shirt or $5.
It's currently just after 10pm in Kinshasa; I expect we'll see mass demonstrations in Kinshasa, Mbuji-Mayi, and/or Kananga over the weekend or early next week. What will happen with those, only time will tell.

UPDATE: Changed date for deadline for constitutional challenges to December 17 - previous typographical error said January 17.

10 Comments:

Blogger Anand said...

Couple of questions:

Why is there no precinct level data available from 2006?

Do you think the Carter Center will release an objective fraud report? I think they were urging Congolese to accept the results about a week ago, which struck me as a way of trying to maintain peace and order above all else. Will they issue a totally objective report, or will it be slanted toward averting conflict?

Thanks for your analysis about reasons for turnout and subtle manipulaton of voters. I haven't seen these important tidbits mentioned elsewhere.

Friday, December 09, 2011 10:48:00 PM

 
Blogger Vincent Harris said...

Mbusa Nyamwisi said he supported Tshisekedi in october, I still don't unerstand what that meant in Beni. Did he just say something which didn't have any effect in real life, did part of "his" electorat vote for Tshisekedi?

Saturday, December 10, 2011 12:43:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Hi, Anand,

In 2006, the counts were done at central counting centers in the cities, so unfortunately that's all the data we have for most places. It will be better from here on out.

The Carter Center's first report came out today and it is damning. I think it's quite objective while trying to maintain calm language in order to avoid inciting people to violence, which is an important concern.

Vincent, I'm not sure. This just seems like an odd situation and I'm trying to figure out why the vote split that way.

Saturday, December 10, 2011 6:14:00 PM

 
Blogger Anand said...

Thanks for the update TiA. I do understand the need for measured language. That is very prudent given the climate in Kinshasa. And I am glad to hear the report is objective. I am a little confused how to view the Carter Center's position though. On Nov 30 they were urging Congolese to accept the results. Now they are releasing a damning report. Seems contradictory. Maybe there is a gap in intended message and the initial call to accept results actually meant, "protest through legal channels if you disagree with the outcome." Confusing wording on the part of the Carter Center. When you read something that says, "We hope the results of the election will be accepted by the people..." and then release a report damning the electoral process, it seems to send a confusing message. I think maybe they jumped the gun a little on Nov 30 and should have just said, "let's wait and see, and be peaceful as we analyze the elections," not call for acceptance before fully analyzing their own data. In any case, hopefully things will be handled peacefully.

Sunday, December 11, 2011 10:53:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the international community has here a unique opportunity to give a good lesson to a person who cheat in a majestic system that is Democracy; and planning it is innaceptable, is an insult to humanity and against democracy itself.

Such a person must be immediately arrested and sent to the court of Hayes before more lives are claimed.

Monday, December 12, 2011 1:02:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anand, I don't think the Carter Center were urging people to accept the results as much as they were saying that they hoped the results would be acceptable to the population and therefore could be accepted as valid. Obviously, after analysis, they don't believe the results were credible or acceptable. Also, it's important to note that the Carter Center doesn't have any way of knowing what the actual results would have been without fraud, and they've been very careful to note this.

Monday, December 12, 2011 10:56:00 AM

 
Blogger Anand said...

TiA, Yeah. I don't disagree with your evaluation of the Carter Center's intended message. I just think it was communicated very poorly in a volatile environment. Seems like precise communication is very important in tense political environments. People tend not to dig a little deeper, and sometimes just hear what they want to hear. Granted, clarity also has to do with journalists too, highlighting the need for emphasizing context and intent when quoting sources. I do commend the Carter Center (and others) for providing a hugely valuable function. It's thankless work, that's easy to criticize.

I guess, we're kind of beyond that now anyway. My new beef is with international players pushing the opposition to use the Supreme Court process to contest the election results instead of striving for more creative and involved solutions. Seems like the company line. Where will that get them with so many new court appointees favoring the incumbency? I guess they should go through the process, but then what? After years of "going through the process" in terms of dealing with college administration, you often find yourself back at square one. I can't imagine how much more dramatized that would be in a political environment, especially in Congo. Hoping the planned protests stay non-violent.

Monday, December 12, 2011 12:39:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

I agree on the Carter Center, but suspect something may have gotten lost in translation along the way. Certainly they want to avoid any language that will provoke violence.

As far as going through the process, I think it's important, even if ultimately futile. Democracy gets built by practicing doing democratic things. By at least going through the motions, there's hope that one day that institution will actually work as planned. Now, it may totally backfire, but if nothing else, the opposition can say that they tried all legal means to protest before they turn to other means. Which gives the international community legitimacy later on should it chose to back up the opposition. This will all matter a lot when/if this gets to the ICC if there's violence.

Monday, December 12, 2011 3:57:00 PM

 
Blogger Anand said...

Agreed. Good points. Going through the motions is important for democracy, even if futile. I am still bothered that international players aren't getting very involved, and don't seem to realize (or at least don't say) that the "legal" process may not work. I'd like to have the sense that my government cares deeply about the events in a 70 million strong budding democracy. I don't. Outside of the sphere of people who pay attention to Africa, NOBODY I know (including academians) even knows elections took place in Congo. ICC might face some interesting challenges if culpability goes to the very top, if violence happens. Man, I really hope things don't get bad.
Looks like the Diaspora protests got a little out of hand in the UK and Canada.

Monday, December 12, 2011 9:49:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LIKE NIXON AND PROBABLY PUTIN, WHO THOUGHT THAT GOD WAS SLEEPING, KABILA HAS BROUGHT SHAME TO DEMCRACY!
I am very disappointed by the behavior of the man Kabila who was looking to preside again over the destiny of the people of Congo and in fact shape in some way the story of the world in which we are living in. That errors have happened by mistake is understandable; but having planned and worked to cheat and win by killing supporters of the opposition parties, by destroying ballots, by naming friends in the electoral committee and at the court of justice is against all values that the humanity stands for. Like it has been for Nixon of the USA, and it will be with Putin of Russia and Kabila of Congo, the world does not want to deal with them, because through them, the devil will come to hurt the world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 1:23:00 AM

 

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