News / Africa

Election Mania Sweeps Across Congo’s Troubled East

In the final week before Congo's elections, campaign trucks - like this one for the ruling party that at one time enjoyed immense popularity in the east - drive down the dirt roads of the North Kivu regional capital, Goma, November 2011.
In the final week before Congo's elections, campaign trucks - like this one for the ruling party that at one time enjoyed immense popularity in the east - drive down the dirt roads of the North Kivu regional capital, Goma, November 2011.
Heather Murdock

Tensions and spirits are running high in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as voters and politicians gear up for the second set of post-civil war elections. In the war-torn province of North Kivu, campaigners have taken to the streets, and some activists say only political change will bring peace to this region.  

Next to a market on the dirt roads in downtown Goma, this truck is festooned with campaign posters, and dancers in traditional garb stomp on the flat bed.

Every candidate in next week's presidential and parliamentary elections is assigned a number. One man said voters should and will choose number three, the current president, Joseph Kabila.

Revitalizing a devastated region

He said North Kivu has been a war zone for decades. He also said Kabila needs to stay on top and be given time to implement a 2008 power-sharing agreement that was designed to bring calm to the east.

Kabila once enjoyed massive popularity in this province, but a few streets over, supporters of candidate number five, Vital Kamerhe, gather outside his local campaign headquarters waving their hands, fingers spread wide, shouting “number five.”

Kamerhe is among the top three out of 11 contenders for the presidential seat, and is particularly popular in the east. Standing on a street corner asking passersby about the elections, it takes just minutes to draw a crowd declaring their support for Kamerhe.

When asked what will happen if the president wins, this pro-Kamerhe crowd yells out, saying it would be proof that the ruling party rigged the elections. They say only fraud could make their man lose, and if he does, they will take to the streets.

Support for opposition candidate

Christian Badose is candidate number 100 of about 1,800 running for parliament. He supports Etienne Tshisekedi, perhaps the most formidable opposition candidate for President Kabila. Tshisekedi already has declared himself the winner, and called for the release of political prisoners.

Badose said his candidate will sweep the elections if they are done right. But he said the electoral commission has neither the will nor the capacity to hold transparent, free elections.

He said the commission is made up of the same people that ran the 2006 elections, which were marred by violence and rumors of fraud.

But at the president’s regional headquarters, Cyrille Muhongya, who leads the ruling party’s local campaign, said the electoral commission is an independent body preparing to conduct fair and democratic elections on November 28, as scheduled.

Hoping for positive change

Muhongya said the elections are being watched closely by international observers. He said he is confident the president will be re-elected fairly. He added, though, that Kabila and his supporters are prepared to step aside quietly in the unlikely event that they lose at the polls.

Many Congolese aid workers say they also supported the president in his 2006 bid - the first Congolese elections in 40 years. But they say this province was promised a lot of desperately needed resources and development, and nothing has changed.

Justine Masika is the director of the aid organization Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence in Goma. She helps rape victims get medical, legal and psychological aid. She said political change and development is the only way to stop the rape and looting that is still crushing villages in the Congolese countryside.

Like many activists in the east, Masika said the old regime made promises that were never kept. New leadership, she said, may have the political will to develop government institutions, like much-needed additional courts, or provide basic services like water and electricity - and offer some relief to the region.






You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid