Editors please note: Enough Project has high-res photos of the election from Eastern Congo available for download via Flickr
WASHINGTON — The Enough Project commends the citizens of Congo for their participation in the 2011 national election and condemns the violence and fraud associated with the electoral process. Despite the challenges faced, the passion and patience demonstrated nationwide by Congolese to cast their vote shows a deep commitment to the democratic process and clear demand for free and fair political representation.
"The many troubling reports of electoral manipulation, intimidation, and violence need to be fully investigated," said Enough Project executive director John C. Bradshaw. "But these irregularities should not be used to justify violence by any parties, who should instead rely on peaceful processes to resolve any disputes."
Unfortunately, the scope and nature of instances of fraud and violence calls into question the validity of a free and fair election. In the restive eastern portion of the country, the Enough Project’s analysts reported numerous accounts of intimidation and manipulation by armed groups, including the national army, in villages and at polling stations. If not immediately addressed by President Kabila as he prepares for his new term, these actions may exacerbate instability and disenfranchisement in the region and further entrench a destructive pattern of impunity for armed actors.
Enough’s Goma based Field Researcher, Fidel Bafilemba said, “The influence of the military in the election has been everywhere. Armed groups loyal to the government were forcing people to cast their votes for President Kabila in Masisi and Walikale, as well as stealing identity cards and dressing in civilian clothes to vote. The failure by Kinshasa to reform and put in place strong institutions has led to serious failures in the overall democratic process.”
The Enough Project urges all parties to peacefully handle all disputes and grievances that may arise through appropriate channels and encourages President Kabila to recognize the irregularities in the process and take all necessary steps to investigate corruption and ensure credibility and transparency.