Last minute update on elections

I am now in Bukavu, where I will be observing elections. A few rushed updates:

  • The situation in Kinshasa is tense following clashes yesterday between UDPS supporters and the police. Following clashes in the morning, Kinshasa’s governor decided to cancel all political rallies in Kinshasa on the last day of the election campaign. The police blocked Tshisekedi from exiting the airport, which provoked clashes with police; at least two people died. This infuriated the UDPS supporters, who claim that Kabila did this on purpose, as he was unlikely to get anywhere close to as many followers at his rally as Tshisekedi. The European Union seemed to agree, condemning the attack on freedom of expression and assembly.
  • Accusations of election irregularities have proliferated over the past days – first, observers noticed that hundreds of polling stations either didn’t exist or had been planned without informing the locales. Then, hundreds of thousands of voters in Ituri and Idjwi (South Kivu) discovered that their names were not on the list of voters. Finally, numerous accusations have emerged of ballot having been found with Kabila’s name already checked. It is difficult to verify all of the accusations or to know where some or due to disorganization or manipulation.
  • As I write this, some places in South Kivu have not received election materials – according to one report, large parts of Fizi territory had not received election material by this evening. Similar situations may prevail elsewhere, as well.
  • The last several days of campaigning saw huge rallies for Tshisekedi in Bas-Congo, Kananga, Mbuji-Mayi and Bandundu.

More tomorrow,