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Posted by on Aug 4, 2006 in At TMV | 1 comment

Allegations of fraud taint DR Congo’s elections

As I reported on Sunday, DR Congo has held its first free elections in 40 years. Violence during the campaign and allegations of voting irregularities cast doubt on the legitimacy of those elections, and now there is an accusation that there was “massive fraud”:

One of Congo’s four vice presidents said Tuesday that a historic national election on Sunday was marred by “massive fraud” that must be remedied through new balloting in at least some parts of the country.

Azarias Ruberwa, the former leader of a Rwandan-backed rebel group who ran for president as head of Congolese Rally for Democracy, charged that officials from the nation’s Independent Electoral Commission stuffed ballot boxes to help President Joseph Kabila in Congo’s first multiparty vote since 1960.

Question: Is a “former leader of a Rwandan-backed rebel group” to be trusted? Could he be right? I’m not sure. The electoral commission will look into alleged “irregularities,” but the U.S.-based Carter Center, which monitored the election, “expressed concern about last-minute changes to the voters list, biased news coverage and abuse of governmental authority to assist candidates”.

Democracy is a challenge, but it’s important to get it right the first time. Hopefully the outcome of these elections will be, and be perceived to be, legitimate. Only then will DR Congo be able to move forward.

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