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November-December 2011

Vol. 36, No. 6


DRC: Elections possible beacon of hope

A scheduled election on November 28, the first held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the uprisings in North Africa, post-electoral conflict in Cote d'Ivoire, and the election of opposition leader Michael Sata in Zambia, may provide a much needed step toward peace and people-centered governance. (Since 1998 approximately 5.4 million people in the DRC have died in wars which primarily have been fueled by the struggles over mining and access to valuable minerals and other natural resources.)

President Joseph Kabila will run for re-election, vying with well known opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi, head of the Union for Democratic and Social Progress party, and Vital Kamerhe, former president of the National Assembly, who actually worked on Kabila's first presidential campaign. The constitution adopted in January 2011 allows for a candidate to win with a simple majority, therefore only one round of voting will take place. "Given that the next incumbent could be elected with a mere 15 percent of the vote, this will taint the legitimacy of the presidency," writes Samuel Kapata, the pseudonym of an observer of Congolese politics, in an Oct. 25 article on

"After Tshisekedi's nomination by more than 80 political parties as a common candidate of the opposition," writes Kapata, "he is in a position to reach out to Kamerhe … and other political groupings to ensure that the opposition vote is not split. And, even without a united vote, he could still be elected under current voting rules and form a team of rivals … . Opposition candidates have to strike a deal to ensure democratic change in the DRC. For this to happen, Tshisekedi needs to capitalize on his long history and reputation in DRC politics to usher in what would be an unprecedented and long overdue victory for popular democracy… . In so doing, Tshisekedi would keep his 'unflagging faith' in the DRC's cause alive."

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