Bloomberg News

Congo Leaders Must Cooperate to Avoid “Crisis,” Observers Say

March 02, 2012

Democratic Republic of Congo’s leaders must cooperate to overcome a political “crisis” in the aftermath of last year’s disputed elections, the National Electoral Observation Mission said.

“Serious problems” damaged the credibility of the Nov. 28 presidential and legislative vote and reforms to the electoral procedures must begin “without delay,” the four non- governmental organizations that formed the mission, which fielded 12,000 observers, said today in an e-mailed report.

“The electoral process in DR Congo was not sufficiently transparent to create the conditions for a progressive consolidation of democracy,” the mission said. “The biggest challenge for DR Congo today is to overcome the current crisis through greater cooperation between political actors.”

Congo is Africa’s second-biggest copper producer after Zambia, produces about half the world’s cobalt and is the continent’s largest producer of tin ore. It is also an important source of columbite-tantalite, the mineral known as coltan that is used in mobile phones and computers.

The Supreme Court is hearing more than 500 legal challenges to legislative results. Opposition leader and runner-up Etienne Tshisekedi has rejected both presidential and parliamentary election results and called on the 41 members of his party elected to parliament to boycott their seats.

The vote for 17 of the national assembly’s 500 seats must be rerun after the electoral commission canceled the results because of violence and other irregularities.

Budget Constraints

President Joseph Kabila’s government said last month it may delay provincial elections unless international donors provide promised financing.

The electoral commission already postponed the provincial vote, originally scheduled for March 25, without setting a new date. The delay affects new appointments for senators and governors, who are chosen through provincial assemblies.

The European Union and other donors have said they would re-evaluate support for future elections because of the problems with last year’s vote, the country’s second after more than 40 years of dictatorship and war.

Officials from Congo’s Catholic Church and observer missions from the EU and the Atlanta-based Carter Center have criticized the election for irregularities including violence, tampering and lost ballots.

Observer groups from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community called for the results to be accepted.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net


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