When lawyer Emmanuel Katcha*, a father of two, casts his vote in Congo’s presidential election on Monday, he said he will be voting for change. “My voice is like teacher's red pen that I want to use to proofread errors of those in power,” Katcha said, adding that he is frustrated that Congo’s leaders seem to see themselves as “gods, superhuman,” and above the rest of the Congolese. “We deserve patriotic leaders,” he said.
With far less international fanfare than the country’s first elections stirred in 2006, Congolese will vote in countrywide presidential and legislative elections. The lead-up to the polls has been tumultuous. Among the many hurdles in the final days of preparation in the fragile East, civil society groups in North Kivu reported this week that the voter lists provided by the national electoral commission are incomplete, alleging that tens of thousands of voters’ names are missing. Given the heightened tensions and fears of rigging, the disenfranchisement of a large section of voters has the real potential to incite violence.
In the weeks ahead of the polls, the Enough Project’s teams in eastern Congo and in Washington, D.C., have churned out coverage and reflections on a variety of topics related to the election. Here’s a round-up of the recent blog posts:
Amani Matabura on final election preparations and set-backs just days before the vote
Sarah Zingg Wimmer on the likelihood of instability in the East should Kabila lose
Chloe Christman and John Bagwell on Congo roads as metaphor for corruption
Fidel Bafilemba on blatant impunity during the elections
Tracy Fehr on pre-election violence countrywide
Annette LaRocco on Tshisekedi’s presidential declaration and crackdown on media
Enough will be watching closely as people go to the polls to vote in the presidential and legislative elections in Goma and Bukavu on Monday and during the subsequent days as the country awaits the results on December 6.
"Together with other on-the-ground observations by national and international organizations, we hope to get a clear picture of how free and fair the voting day proceeds here in eastern Congo," said Enough Project Congo researcher Sarah Zingg Wimmer, based in Goma. "Enough urges all candidates and their supporters to refrain from violence and intimidation to allow Congolese people to vote freely and to have their own choice. It's only the second time since Congo's independence that people can chose their leaders by universal suffrage. This election will thus set an important precedent for Congo's political future and its image to the outside world."
Want to take action? Drawing on the theme of Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the United States, Enough’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign is reminding Americans about the connection between consumer electronics and the decade-long conflict in Congo. Join Raise Hope for Congo today on Facebook to help build the movement dedicated to ending the trade in conflict minerals in Congo.
Fidel Bafilemba contributed to this post.
*Name has been changed.
Photo: A man reviews the ballot list at a polling station (Enough/Fidel Bafilemba)