Congo Siasa

Slow progress in voter registration

Here are the latest figures I’ve been able to get from the UN regarding voter registration:

Voter registration has been concluded in Bas-Congo and (partially) in Kinshasa. It is currently ongoing in Maniema and the next provinces will be Kasai Occidental and Katanga, then Bandundu, North and South Kivu, Kasai Orientale, Equateur and then back to Kinshasa to finish updating the electoral roll there.

But will they finish in time? Already, the results have  been meager in some places. In Kinshasa, the revision took place between June 7th and September 1st, but only 1,405,300 people registered – that’s about half as many voters registered for the 2006 elections. As a reminder, the electoral commission has asked everyone to re-register. Five years ago, the big draw was that the electoral card also served as an ID card – that is no longer an incentive.

In Bas-Congo, the registration was much more successful. Registration offices were open for 4 months and registered 1,489,350 voters, a good 200,000 more than had previously signed up.

In Maniema, after two months of registration they are only at 409,440 registrations – that’s only around 60 percent of the voters registered in 2006. There were two weeks of delays when materials ran out and had to be brought in from Kinshasa. Elsewhere, there have been protests at the lack of registration offices; in North Kivu, these were reduced by half in comparison with 2005/6, meaning many people had to walk much further and with fewer incentives than last time around.

My worry is now that with only ten months to go before elections, the CENI will be hard pressed to register all the voters, clean the lists of duplicates and publish them. They plan to step up registration operations, but with 8 provinces to go, plus another revision of Kinshasa’s electoral roll, it will be tight. Until now, they have only done two provinces at a time. My uneducated guess is that they will now have to do four provinces at a time and only for 2 months to have enough time to process all the information and tidy up the lists.

I hope I am wrong.