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.