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Congo Residents Apprehensive While Awaiting Election Results

  • Heather Murdock

Supporters say they don't trust the results, but say they will not protest until their leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, directs them, outside local opposition headquarters, Goma, DRC, December 6, 2011.

Supporters say they don't trust the results, but say they will not protest until their leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, directs them, outside local opposition headquarters, Goma, DRC, December 6, 2011.

Tensions are rising in the Democratic Republic of Congo as returns from last week's presidential election trickle in. Incumbent President Joseph Kabila is still expected to win, having taken 46 percent of the vote with more than two-thirds of the count complete.

At the Goma office for Etienne Tshisekedi, Kabila's main rival in the presidential contest, party chapter president Wemba Katina says they are not waiting for the returns. They are waiting to hear from their leader.

Katina says the results are not legitimate because the election was rigged from the start. The people will protest, he said, but the only question is when. Katina says his party is not planning to incite violence, but they are prepared to die for their cause.

Wemba Katina, parliamentary candidate and regional head of Union for Democratic and Social Progress [UDPS], the party of Etienne Tshisekedi, shares his thoughts, in Goma, DRC, December 6, 2011.

Wemba Katina, parliamentary candidate and regional head of Union for Democratic and Social Progress [UDPS], the party of Etienne Tshisekedi, shares his thoughts, in Goma, DRC, December 6, 2011.

Tshisekedi currently holds 36 percent of the vote in the 11-man winner-takes-all contest, already marred by violence, disorganization and widespread allegations of fraud. Human Rights Watch says at least 18 people were killed and 100 injured in violence leading up to the vote.

Observers fear the results could lead to another onslaught of violence in Congo, a country still reeling from the bloodiest war since World War II. The African Union, European Union and United Nations have called for Congolese people and political figures to remain calm, and to bring allegations of vote-rigging to the courts, not to the streets.

On the streets of Goma, however, opposition supporters say if Kabila assumes power, they will have no option but to protest. Chibe Ntamwira was an election observer for the party of Vital Kamerhe, another top contender for the presidential seat.

Kamerhe has called for the Congolese electoral commission to delay publishing the results, claiming they are false and will incite violence. Ntamwira said he fears violence will break out when the police move to break up demonstrations.

He said as an election observer he witnessed numerous violations, including pre-marked ballots and the intimidation of observers.

In the national capital, Kinshasa, officials say they still are trying to meet the midnight deadline for final results, but may be delayed. Security forces are on high alert and helicopters have been dispersed to the countryside to collect ballots.

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