FINAL REPORT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN
OBSERVER MISSION IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC) 30 JULY 2006
Cape Town, 7 September 2006
the SAOM arrived in the DRC on
however noted with great concern the violent clashes between certain armed
elements that took place in
urges the Congolese people in particular the political leaders to continue
their peaceful participation in the electoral process in the spirit of national
reconciliation and democracy. Political dialogue not confrontation will bring
lasting peace to the DRC. In this regard,
Considering the background of civil strife and autocratic rule, which marked most of the countryís history since independence, infrastructure challenges and the fact that these elections were the first democratic elections in forty years, the July 2006 DRC presidential and legislative elections were remarkable achievement and success.
On the basis of verifiable observations made in accordance with the DRC
Electoral Law, SADC Election Management, Monitoring and Observation and
internationally accepted guidelines, the leader of the
In this regard, the SAOM urges all the people of the DRC, especially the political party leaders, to welcome and accept the outcome of the elections and should begin to prepare for the second round of the presidential elections that will run concurrently with the provincial elections on 29 October 2006.
1.1††††††† Background / Context
The elections of
Efforts to bring about peace in the DRC culminated in the signing in
millions, the people of
By March 2006, the DRCís political transition had reached a crucial stage. The adoption and the promulgation of the new constitution endorsed by 84% of the population in a successful December 2005 Referendum paved the way for the landmark presidential and legislative elections.
1.2††††††† Composition of the
leader of the South African Observer Mission expressed profound gratitude to
the organisations that seconded their officials to form part of the South
African Mission. These officials individually and collectively demonstrated
incredible determination, dedication and professionalism. They were true
1.3††††††† Principles for the South
1.4††††††† Method of Work
execution of its mandate, the
addition, the SAOM was constituted, among others, to assess whether conditions
existed for an election to take place in which the people of
1.5††††††† Deployment and observation of the voting process
The South African observers were deployed in all eleven provinces of the DRC with an average of three teams in each province. The deployment in all the provinces provided the SAOM with a general sense of what was taking place in the entire country.
geographical spread enabled the
1.6††††††† Meetings with Stakeholders
noted the willingness and determination of many international and national
observers to assist the people of
2.†††††††† FINDINGS OF THE
2.1††††††† ELECTORAL FRAMEWORK
2.1.1†††† Legal Framework of the 2006 Elections in the DRC
Towards the end of 2005, the DRCís Transitional Government put in place legislative frameworks that paved the way for holding of the democratic presidential and legislative elections.
The presence of the institutions in support of democracy, as entrenched in Articles 211 and 212 of the 2006 Constitution provides credibility to the currently existing legal framework in the DRC. These include the CEI, which has the primary responsibility for the organisation of the electoral process. The Commission also has the duty of ensuring the regularity of the electoral process.
2.1.2†††† Registration and Votersí Roll
The current voterís roll in the DRC is based on the registration that was conducted before Constitutional Referendum of December 2005, where close to 25 million out of the targeted 28 million eligible voters registered. Article 5 of the countryís electoral law stipulates conditions for one to become a voter. The registered voters were issued with voter cards, which they were required to produce at the polling stations.
The South African Observer Mission confirmed that the votersí roll was
made available at the polling stations and centres for inspection. The
2.1.3†††† Registration of Political Parties and Nomination of Candidates
In terms of the law, presidential candidates must be Congolese citizens of, at least, 30 years of age, who enjoy full civil and political rights and are not disqualified according to criteria defined by the Electoral Law. Similar criteria apply to candidates for the National Assembly, except that the minimum age for such candidates is 25 years. In total, close to 270 parties registered for the elections. There were 33 presidential candidates and 9 632 candidates for the 500-seat National Assembly.
The SAOM noted that the stipulated equal representation of men and women was not adhered to by the political parties in their nomination of candidates. This resulted in the nomination of only four female presidential candidates.
2.1.4†††† The Electoral Commission (CEI)
The mandate of the CEI is to prepare and administer the elections in the DRC. The CEI was able to partner with other institutions in the country, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), youth organisations, political parties and community-based organisations.
Under very difficult conditions, logistical challenges and limited resources, the CEI staff members displayed a high degree of professionalism, independence and impartiality.† In general, the CEI was able to fulfil its responsibilities, which include the responsibility of coordinating awareness campaigns and ensuring that the electorate is well informed about the electoral process. The CEI remarkably managed to deliver the election material at all polling stations in this vast country.
The SAOM noted the important contribution of the international community in assisting the CEI accomplish some of its objectives. In this regard, the SAOM commends the South African Independent Electoral Commission for deploying its expects throughout the DRC to assist its DRC sister organisation (CEI) to execute its mandate.††
Freedom of expression remains one of critical tools used as a yardstick to measure a countryís adherence to principles of good governance. The election process in the DRC received extensive coverage in the countryís media.
The Media Regulator Authority, in consultation with the CEI, was to a greater extent, able to ensure equitable access to the public media and the allocation of airtime during the elections as stipulated by the Electoral Law. The Media Authority ensured that all the presidential candidates had equal access to the public media over which it has control. The Media Authority obviously does not have control over the private media in terms of access and those presidential candidates who have financial resources had more access. However, the Media Authority was able to ensure that all the media including privately owned observed the required regulations. The media that violated stipulated regulations was dealt with accordingly.†
In general, there had been a wide coverage of the electoral process including the election campaign and elections.
The SAOM came to the conclusion that the election campaign was conducted in a climate free from fear of repression of divergent viewpoints and intimidation.
2.1.6†††† Campaigning / Political Violence and Intimidation
As stipulated in Article 28 of the DRCís Electoral Law that the election campaign is open maximum thirty days prior to the voting date and ends twenty-four hours before this date, the SAOM confirmed that indeed this stipulation of the electoral law was observed.
The election campaign process proceeded in a relatively peaceful environment. Political candidates were able to conduct their election campaigns without interference. Political rallies were well attended and in most cases went without incident.
The SAOM noted with regret that some lives were lost during isolated incidents of violence. While this was tragic, the election campaigns, in general, proceeded peacefully and voters were not deterred from going to voting stations on Election Day.
Overall, there were high levels of political tolerance demonstrated by candidates and the electorate. Even groups that were, for various reasons, opposed to the elections were given the opportunity to embark on peaceful protests.†
2.1.7†††† Civic and Voter Education
Civic and voter education form a critical part in creating an environment conducive to holding credible democratic elections. According to the Electoral Law, the CEI is responsible for implementing and coordinating voter information programmes for voter and civic education campaigns.
As these were the first democratic elections in forty years, there was a need for extensive voter education. Civic education plays an important role in raising public awareness, confidence and legitimacy in the electoral process.
The SAOM noted evidence of an effective education campaign conducted in a
multi-faceted fashion which drew in governmental, non-governmental and
political party resources and networks. The SAOM noted the important role
played by radio in the education programmes. This helped some of the many
people who do not have access to televisions and newspapers. The
Despite the high voter turnout and the complexity of the ballot papers,
voting was completed in good time over one day. The
2.1.8†††† Election Day
Voting took place in all the eleven provinces of the country in about 50 000 polling stations. The majority of voting stations opened on time with a few exceptions where stations opened late due to a number of problems including lack of electricity and late delivery of election material. In general, voting proceeded smoothly in the presence of party agents and national and international election observers.
The SAOM also noted cases where ballot boxes, due to the size of some of the ballot papers, filled up quickly. Additional ballot boxes were, however, supplied timeously. This did not have any material impact on the voting process.
The SAOM did not observe any incidents of irregularities with the voting
process. On the contrary, Election Day was marked by a general atmosphere of
calm. Voters patiently stood in queues waiting to cast their votes. The SAOM
noted a sense of excitement on the part of the voters. Remembering their own
first democratic General Elections in
The SAOM concludes that the elections were conducted in a peaceful, democratic and credible manner.
3.†††††††† COUNTING PROCESS AND ITS TRANPARENCY
The results compilation and verification process was very transparent. Party agents representing political parties and independent candidates were present all the time. Cell phones were allowed inside the premises. Journalists were given unrestricted access to the centre. Some used media-recording devices such as video cameras to record the process.
National and international observer groups were allowed to observe and monitor the process.† The SAOM noted that even after three weeks since the Election Day a few international observers were still present in the country observing results compilation and capturing process. The CEI adopted a system whereby every voting station was also a counting centre and 6 voting stations constituted a results centre.††
It is the
view of the
3.1††††††† Security at the results centres
Party agents, observers and media were registered on entry at the centres and were further required to register before gaining entry inside the results centres.
The high level of security maintained meant that no election material could be brought inside or taken out of the premises, and that no unauthorised person could gain access to the centres.† It is the view of the SAOM that security at the premises was not compromised at any time throughout the compilation of the results.
The SAOM commends the DRC National Police (PNC) and MONUC for securing the elections. The PNC displayed a high level of professionalism.
3.2††††††† Party Agents
Party agents representing various political parties and independent candidates were present throughout the period. Party agents monitored the entire process of results registration, verification and capturing into the computers.††
The SAOM commends the dedication of party agents who spent long hours at the results centres.
The SAOM noted though that some party agents were making telephone calls releasing election results from polling stations. This obviously created confusion. The SAOM recommends that this practice should be avoided in future elections.
3.3††††††† CEI Staff
commends the Congolese CEI Staff for their commitment despite working under
very difficult conditions. The staff worked long hours without sufficient rest
and adequate supply of water and food. The
noted that in some places CEI officials complained about non-payment of their
allowances. Some officials indicated that they had not been paid their December
2005 Referendum allowances. The
The SAOM noted warm and co-operative working relationship between the IEC South Africa and CEI staff. IEC Staff displayed an understanding of the process, provided technical competency and advice when needed, and generally transferred the necessary skills to their Congolese counterparts.
It is the
view of the
3.5††††††† IT Support Team and IT Infrastructure
The capturing of the data using Portable Data Units, done on the Results Centre floors in the presence of party agents and observers, further helped in improving the confidence in the data.
3.6††††††† Election Material (ballot papers and results slips) from various polling stations
observed that some election material from various polling stations appeared not
to have been properly stored at the results centres. This aroused fear that
critical election information may be misplaced. The
The SAOM did not observe the compilation of National Deputies results, but confined itself to the Presidential Elections results.
The SAOM concludes, based on its observation through daily visits to the results centres, that the tracking of daily results statistics from other centres and provinces, and the interaction with the various role players at the centres, that the Presidential results registration, verification and capturing process was transparent; the elections material and the premises had the necessary and sufficient security; the CEI staff conducted itself professionally and competently; and that the capturing of data was conducted with integrity.
The SAOM wishes to thank the CEI and the people of the DRC for the opportunity
to have been invited to observe these historic elections. During the period of
their stay in the DRC, members of the
The SAOM observed that during these elections the people of the DRC were provided with a platform to freely elect representatives of their choice. Voting took place in a reasonably peaceful environment and electoral officers managed to perform their tasks admirably despite several limitations.
Election Day was marked by high visibility of security personnel within the stipulated distance. Their presence contributed to an atmosphere of calm and security.
On the basis of observations made, which were conducted in accordance
with the DRC Electoral Law, SADC Election Management, Monitoring and
Observation and internationally accepted guidelines, the leader of the
Taking advantage of these elections, the first in forty years, the people
The SAOM notes with great appreciation the calm manner in which the
ordinary Congolese have welcomed the provisional results. The SAOM believes
that the ordinary people of the DRC are looking forward to the presidential
runoff and provincial elections scheduled for
The SAOM noted with regret the violent clashes that erupted in the
capital of the DRC,
The SAOM urges the candidates in the presidential runoff to demonstrate a high sense of responsibility, put an end to the escalation of hostilities in the country and create conditions conducive for the successful conclusion of the political transition. In this regard, the candidates to the presidential runoff would need to agree to a code of conduct.
The SAOM is confident that the Congolese political leadership will build on the successful first round of the presidential and legislative elections and take the country forward to lasting peace, stability and economic development.
The SAOM further calls on the international community to continue to
support the people of
5.1††††††† Non payment of CEI staff
The SAOM noted the complaints by some CEI staff members who alleged that they had not been paid their wages for the December 2005 Constitutional Referendum.
In this regard, the SAOM recommends that CEI must be encouraged to ensure early payment of the wages of its staff members throughout the country. The SAOM notes that if this is not done on time, it has a potential to negatively affect future elections including the second of the presidential and provincial elections.
5.2††††††† Civic and voter education
The SAOM noted that CEI had managed to conduct civic and voter education resulting in an informed electorate. Voter education is a critical part of a democratic process as it provides public confidence, awareness and legitimacy of the electoral process.
In view of the upcoming presidential run-off and the provincial elections, the SAOM recommends that CEI should continue with its civic and voter education. In this regard, the SAOM urges international community to continue to support CEI technically and financially. The SAOM commends all those organisations both national and international which supported the CEI in the run up to the December 2005 Constitutional Referendum and the July 2006 presidential and legislative elections.
5.3††††††† Women representation
The SAOM noted that equal representation of men and women, despite its stipulation in the countryís constitution, was not adhered to by the political parties in their nomination of candidates. There were, for example, only four female presidential candidates out of a total of 33 candidates. Article 14 of the Constitution stipulates that the public authorities shall ensure elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. This Article goes on to say that women have the right to equitable representation within the national, provincial and local institutions.
In addition, Article 13 of the Electoral Law stipulates that party lists should ensure parity representation between men and women.
The SAOM recommends that in future elections political parties need to ensure that this constitutional requirement is respected. This is not only constitutional requirement in the DRC, as it has become a regional, continental and international requirement. Nowadays, women advancement is promoted in each and every institution.
5.4††††††† Voterís Roll
The SAOM noted that a small number of voters probably lost their voting cards or their names did not appear in the voterís roll. The CEI tried hard to assist these voters before and during the Election Day.
The SAOM recommends that CEI should embark on a nation-wide campaign to encourage voters who may have lost their voting cards to come forward to receive duplicate cards.
5.5††††††† International Community
The SAOM commends the role the international community continues to play in the DRC peace process. True to the spirit of the United Nations Charter, the United Nations through MONUC has played a critical role in the DRC.
The SAOM recommends that MONUC should continue to assist the people of the DRC in their search for lasting peace, stability and reconstruction.†††