In two weeks the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will hold its first free elections in 45 years. Thirty-three candidates vying for the presidency. In a country the size of DRC, campaigning is an arduous task, and some of the candidates have been unable to reach people within the country. Mvemba Dizolele is an independent journalist who has been in the DRC to assess the progress of the campaigns. From Kinshasa, he told Voice of America English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that only a few of the presidential candidates have had visible campaigns.
“People have been waiting for this for over 40 years, so there is a lot of excitement.”
He said the central issue of this election is that most of the presidential candidates lack the means or name recognition to gain a national following. “Only a handful of candidates have the means and resources to criss-cross the country; notable among those is the current president, Joseph Kabila, and Jean-Pierre Bemba, who has so far spent over 20 million dollars of his personal money on the campaign.”
He added that people will probably end up choosing between the top three candidates. Dizolele said that because of the DRC’s political history, people understand the election may not be perfect, but they hope for some transparency and fairness.
Dizolele said that due to the large investment of the international community in the electoral process, he would like to see it go smoothly. “The Congolese people themselves are divided, with some preferring to go on with the election sooner rather that later because they have waited too long. Others want more time but the country has been in transition for so long, people are tired and they want the process to move ahead regardless of the flaws in the electoral system.”
The presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on July 30th. More than 8500 candidates are contesting for the 500 seats in Parliament.
Let us know what you think of this report and other stories on our website. Send your views to AFRICA@VOANEWS.COM, and include your phone number. Or, call us here in Washington, DC at (202) 205-9942. After you hear the VOA identification, press 30 to leave a message. We want to hear what you have to say!