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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid