Congo Siasa

Will there be local elections next year?

I was talking to a Congolese (opposition) parliamentarian today about the 2010 budget, which has just been submitted by the government. He said that it does not include a budget line for local elections, so he doubts that they still intend on holding them. I checked and couldn’t find a budget line, either. Nonetheless, the electoral commission registered 1.25 million new voters in Kinshasa alone in August and plans on issuing a total of 6 million new ID cards before the next elections in 2010.

In April this year, the election commission said that it had received $123 of the $243 million it needed to hold the local elections next year. MONUC has including in its budget $80 million for supporting these elections next year (their logistic support was key in the 2005/6 ballots). I also heard from donors several weeks ago that the Congolese government wanted them to fund the local elections but not to be too involved in the national elections of 2011.

So local elections remain a question mark for the Congo – their stakes may not be very high, as the budgets that the municipal and territorial councils control or relatively low, but they do have a fair degree of control over matters such as land tenure and local taxes, which in turn are important factors in local violence and politics.