Registration in South Kivu

We eagerly await news from the national electoral commission on changes to the electoral calendar. In particular, there are mounting rumors that the presidential and legislative elections might be held separately. Holding the presidential election first would probably give the winner of those elections an edge in the parliamentary elections, as he could use his moral and political authority to influence the polls; being in the same party as the president and having access to power and resources provided legislative candidates an aura of authority and legitimacy. In addition, knowing that Kabila, for example, has been re-elected will affect and perhaps undermine alliances within the opposition in the legislative race.

While we wait for news – which we weer supposed to have received days ago – registration kicked off in six provinces simultaneously last Saturday. The electoral commission wants to hurry up the process so everyone can register in time for elections.

There have, however, been hiccups in many provinces, with delays in paying for transport and registration staff and malfunctioning computers and printers. Many around the country still complain that they have to walk much further to register than they did in 2005.

On 6 April, the fifth day of registration in South Kivu, only 47% of the registration centers had been opened.  According to the electoral commission in the province, this slow pace is due to the delayed deployment of electoral materials, a problem they hope to have fixed by next week. Where the centers are open, people often have to wait in long lines to register.