Accessibility links

UN Appeals for Calm, Patience as Vote Counting Continues in DRC


The United Nations has appealed for calm and patience in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where vote counting has gotten off to a slow start, amid allegations of election fraud. The head of the world's largest peacekeeping mission also expressed concerns over candidates declaring their own results.

William Swing described Sunday's elections in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo as good elections, despite some disturbances and irregularities.

Speaking in French, the head of the U.N mission also said the road that needs to be traveled remains long for Congo, but that one step, a big step has been taken.

He said integrating former fighters, including militias, renegade soldiers and personal security forces into the armed forces and restoring state authority throughout the vast mineral-rich country remain huge challenges.

Swing also expressed concern that media affiliated with major candidates were proclaiming their own results. He explained electoral law only allows the election commission to do so.

An international committee supporting the transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo also warned against what it called a "misrepresentation of results" that it said could sow unease among people and threaten public order.

Several close aides to President Joseph Kabila, the son of a slain former leader, have already said he won outright in the first round. Meanwhile, former Uganda-backed rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba says he leads in more than half the country.

There were 30 other candidates. One of them, another former rebel leader and current vice president, Azarias Ruberwa has said there was massive fraud.

The top U.N. official said such statements are dangerous and should be filed through proper, legal channels. But Swing refused to say whether the vote was free and fair, saying he could not be both judge and witness.

He said the U.N. role is to assist with security and logistics.

One area that needs help is the Kinshasa center where votes and tally sheets are progressively being dropped off by the truckload from the country's 50,000 polling centers and thrown into storerooms.

One international observer said it looked like a garbage dump, and that he did not know how votes could be counted, or worse, recounted if need be, in such conditions.

A Congolese observer shared these concerns. He said there are even problems with how the tally sheets were filled.

"There is a very big problem with the center. Most of the people did not do a good job," the observer said. "They did not fill correctly the main paper they had to send over to this office. It is a very, very bad job, they did. It will give us a lot of time and so many days before we finish the job here."

Newly trained police and U.N. forces are providing security at the center.

Final results for the presidential election, in which there were more than 30 candidates, are not expected before August 20. There was also a parliamentary vote to fill 500 seats.

International observers have called for losing candidates to accept the eventual results. They stopped short of saying the poll was free and fair, saying it was too early to tell.

But the U.S.-based Carter Center said those in the power-sharing government, who were also candidates, misused their authority and access to public resources by obstructing other competitors and also gaining an unfair advantage in media exposure.

XS
SM
MD
LG