News roundup: Conflict minerals and election planning

[I apologizes for my brief absence, largely linked to the publication of my book. Hopefully I’ll be more regular in the coming week.]

A few important news stories:

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has apparently delayed the adopting of rules regulating “conflict minerals” until later this year. The rules were supposed to come into effect in April, with companies due to issue their first “conflict minerals report” by June 2012. I haven’t seen an official announcement, but industry insiders confirm the delay and the SEC has posted on its website that they won’t adopt the rules until August-December this year. This could be good, in that it gives governments more time to set up tracing and tagging programs and for industry to set up internal due diligence mechanisms, avoiding a potentially harmful boycott of the Congolese mining sector. It could also be bad, however, if the SEC loses focus, dilutes the regulations and donors don’t invest the necessary capital in those mechanisms on the ground.
  • The Congolese election commission still hasn’t come out with its new election calendar yet, as internal negotiations continue. However, parliament has begin debating a new election law that could make presidential candidates pay $100,000 to register, with the price tag for legislative candidates set at $5,000. This would be a heavy burden to bear for some poorer parties – if you try to field a presidential candidate plus national assembly candidates for all of the country’s seats in the national assembly, that would come to $2,600,000 just for registering your candidates.