News / Africa

Eastern Congo Sings, Struggles Ahead of Election Day

Outside the election board in North Kivu capital, Goma, crowds wait for hours for replacement cards, November 25, 2011.
Outside the election board in North Kivu capital, Goma, crowds wait for hours for replacement cards, November 25, 2011.
Heather Murdock

On the last days of campaigning for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second elections in more than 40 years, makeshift parades and campaign trucks circle Goma - the capital of North Kivu, one of the country’s most volatile provinces.  And while throngs of people wait outside the electoral commission for new voting cards, many say they don’t think this region has the organizational skills to hold credible elections.  

Less than a hundred people, mostly young men on motorcycles, shout and sing praise for their candidate in this mini-parade in one of Goma's dusty central round-abouts. They support opposition candidate Vital Kamerhe, one of the top three contenders for president, a race which includes current president Joseph Kabila.

Nationally, Etienne Tshisekedi is Kabila’s most formidable opponent.  But in the east, he is not nearly as popular because of past associations with rebel groups.  On Monday, voters will chose from 11 presidential candidates, and more than 1,800 parliamentary contenders.

But outside the regional election commission offices, voters wait for new registration cards for hours and hours, growing obviously restless and frustrated - another sign of organizational problems that threaten the credibility of these elections.

Cyprien Sumaili  is an unemployed college graduate waiting to get a replacement card for the one he lost. He says even if he gets his card, he doesn’t think there are enough polling places to accommodate the voters of North Kivu.

Near where he speaks, a motorcycle driver passes out a few non-descript flyers from local aid workers.  It is an open letter to the local electoral board, complaining that the elections are already marred.  The letter says the process is already plagued by flawed poll lists and early signs of fraud.  It warns that people in the east may reject the results- regardless of what happens.

Matthieu Ruchogoza heads the Goma office of the election board.  When asked if he expects protests or post-election violence, he says he has no idea.  He also declines comment on polls outside of North Kivu.  But, he says, come Monday, the polling stations here will be open and ready to accommodate all of the provinces more than three million voters.

He says thousands of international observers, journalists, and witnesses from the Congo’s many political parties and aid organizations will oversee the elections, and that ballots, supplies and staff are prepared.

Opposition leaders claim the commission is not neutral- offering an edge to Kabila's party. But Ruchogoza says the board is an independent body without support for any party.

In the yard outside the commission, standing on the broken volcanic rock that characterizes much of this city, some would-be voters say they don’t think the hold-up is political.  They say the chief of the commission promised them they will get a card and they are prepared to wait as long as it takes.

Jeremy, after almost five hours in the yard, with no end in sight, is asked if he thinks he will ever get his new voting card.  

“Of course,” he said, smiling.  “It is my right.”

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs