With the DRC presidential runoff election set for the end of next month, the Carter Center has released its assessment of the first round of voting. It says it did not find evidence of widespread or systematic manipulation. However, it says there were “important procedural flaws that weakened the transparency of the process.”
Colin Stewart is the co-director of the Carter Center’s DRC field office. From Kinshasa, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the recent elections.
“We’ve looked at the first round so far and we’ve concluded that on the whole the process was credible. It was a success. Nonetheless, we identified a number of shortcomings that are of concern to us going into a second round because they raise some questions about the transparency and the integrity of the process that leave it vulnerable to criticism. And we don’t want to go into a second round, which is likely to be highly charged and very competitive, with these sorts of weaknesses,” he says.
Regarding the “important procedural flaws, Stewart says, “It’s very important in any electoral process that there be a very clear posting of where polling centers are, how many there are and what the list of voters are for each polling center. This may seem like a fairly subtle procedural issue to many people, but it’s an essential tool for those of us that are trying to do the math and verify that the process was not subject to manipulation.” A lot of these procedures, he says, “were not implemented.”
He adds, “That puts us in a very difficult position to attest to the credibility of the process. In fact, the reason that we’re able to say that the process was credible is because the results for the presidential (election) were so clear cut.” He says, however, that the results for some of the legislative races were too close to “make a call.”
Stewart says, “There’s just too many irregularities and too many things that we just can’t answer.” But he adds there’s no evidence of deliberate manipulation, just weaknesses in the system.