African Union Electoral Observation Mission for the General Elections of 30 December 2018 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Preliminary Declaration Kinshasa, 02 January 2019

January 02, 2019

https://au.int/en/pressreleases/20190102/mission-d%E2%80%99observation-electorale-de-l%E2%80%99union-africaine-pour-les-elections

I. INTRODUCTION

In the framework of the presidential, legislative and national elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of December 2018, the President of the African Union Commission (AU), HE Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, sent a mission of Election Observation to monitor and make an objective assessment of the electoral process in the DRC.

Led by HE Prof. Dioncounda Traoré, former President of the Transition of the Republic of Mali, the African Union Election Observation Mission (MOEUA) arrived in the DRC on November 28, 2018. It consists of 80 observers from Long and Short Term. These are from the Pan-African Parliament, election management bodies and civil society organizations.

The evaluation of the MOEUA is based on the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the OAU / AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa AHG / Decl.1 (XXXVIII), the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions, the African Peer Review Mechanism, the relevant international instruments governing international election observation and the Constitution and laws of the African Union. DRC.

This statement consists of an assessment of the pre-election context and election day. The Mission will continue to observe the evolution of the electoral process. A more comprehensive final report will be published later.

II. OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY OF THE MISSION

The objective of the MOEUA is to objectively, impartially and independently assess the general elections in the DRC, in accordance with the international instruments governing democratic elections and in compliance with the national laws in force.

In order to achieve its objectives, the MOEUA has had a series of exchanges and meetings with stakeholders in the electoral process including the Government, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), candidates, the Superior Council of Audiovisual and Communication (CSAC), civil society organizations as well as representatives of the international community.

In accordance with its methodology, the MOEUA organized an orientation and information session on the socio-political context of the DRC and on the use of tablets for the digital collection and transmission of data collected in the field.

On the day of the polls, the MOEUA deployed 23 teams in 13 provinces of the country .These teams visited 317 polling and counting stations, of which 281 were in urban areas and 36 in rural areas.

III. FINDINGS AND PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

A. Political Context of General Elections

Postponed twice, the general elections were finally held on December 30, 2018. These elections follow the overall political agreement of December 31, 2016 signed under the auspices of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO). This agreement helped to ease the political tensions arising from the postponement of the elections scheduled for November 2016. On the basis of this agreement, the CENI published on November 5, 2017, an electoral calendar approved by the political actors and fixing the presidential polls. , national and provincial legislation as of December 23, 2018.

Despite the differences between the political actors on the use of the voting machine and on the electoral roll, these political actors agreed to go to the elections on December 23, 2018. Following the fire of the central warehouse of the CENI and the resulting technical challenge, these elections will eventually be postponed to December 30. For health and security reasons, the CENI will postpone the holding of elections in the constituencies of Beni and Butembo in North Kivu and Yumbi in Mai-Ndombe in March 2019.

The electoral process leading to the general elections of December 30, 2018 took place in a security context marked by violent incidents in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Beni, Kalemie, Tshikapa, Yumbi, Mbuji Mayi.

B. Legal framework for the 2018 general elections

The electoral process is mainly governed by the Constitution, the Electoral Law and the Political Agreement of 31 December 2016.

The constitution enshrines the sovereignty of the people (art 5), as well as political pluralism (art 6), respect for fundamental rights and freedoms (art 11, 22-26), parity between men and women (art 14). ) and sets the institutional framework for elections (art. 161, 211 and 212.).

As for the electoral law n ° 06/006, it fixes the modalities of organization of the various polls. It has been amended several times, in particular in 2011, 2015, 2016 and more recently on 24 December 2017. These changes have brought substantial innovations to electoral regulation.

The national legal framework enshrines all commonly accepted principles and standards in electoral matters. However, the MOEUA notes that it has been the subject of numerous amendments, the implementation of which has not always been consensual, such as the introduction of the representativity threshold for national and provincial and local legislative elections, the use of the voting machine and the non-respect of the principle of parity on the lists of candidates.

C. Electoral Administration

The MOEUA welcomes the Government's decision to take over the financing and logistics of the electoral process. This initiative is an achievement for the appropriation and sustainability of the electoral process by the Congolese people.

Established by Organic Law No. 13/012 of 19 April 2013 and endowed with administrative and financial autonomy, the CENI is responsible for organizing and ensuring the regularity of all electoral processes in the DRC. It is composed of thirteen members from the majority, the opposition and civil society.

The Mission notes that despite the inclusiveness of this institution, it has not always enjoyed the confidence of all stakeholders. It was in this difficult context that she worked to organize the elections.

The MOEUA notes the irregularity of the meetings of the consultation frameworks established by the CENI. In a context marked by tensions, suspicions and non-trust, these frameworks would have served as a platform to help resolve disputes between stakeholders in the electoral process and thus avoid non-consensual decisions, including the introduction of voting machine and postponement of elections in the localities of Beni, Butembo and Yumbi.

D. Registration of Voters

Launched on 31 July 2016, the voter identification and enrolment process was completed in August 2018. With the technical support of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), the electoral register has been cleared and validated to a total of 40 024 897 voters. The postponement of elections in three constituencies reduced the number of voters to 1,257,177 voters.

The MOEUA notes that the voter registration file was contested by opposition political actors, who reported on registered voters without fingerprints, estimated at approximately 6,000,000.

E. Registration of candidates

At the end of the application process, 21 candidates including 1 woman (less than 4.7%) were selected for the presidential election; 15,355 of which 1794 women (11.68%) for the national legislatures and 19,640 of which 2313 women (11,77%) for the provincials.

F. Conduct of the election campaign

The electoral campaign was opened on 22 November and closed on 21 December 2018 in accordance with the requirements of the electoral law. The decision to postpone the elections to December 30, 2018 did not affect the duration of the campaign.

The electoral campaign took place in an atmosphere often marked by excesses, and sometimes even by acts of violence that led to loss of life, especially in Kalemie, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi and the suspension of campaign activities for the presidential election in Kinshasa by the provincial authorities.

G. Civic Education

CENI has made efforts to educate and inform voters. It has a set of communication tools including a website, a daily newsletter, a radio and an electoral atlas. These efforts were supported by civil society organizations involved in monitoring the electoral process. However, the MOEUA found that the resources of the CENI were insufficient. The website has not been regularly updated during the process and mass outreach activities have not always been large especially in rural areas.

H. Media

The MOEUA noted that the media landscape in the DRC is very rich and varied, however, equitable access to state media has not been perfect.

Similarly, the MOEUA noted with concern the difficulty for the Higher Council for Audiovisual and Communication (CSAC) to exercise its prerogatives in the field of monitoring and regulation of the media during the electoral process, due to the insufficient means.

However, the MOEUA welcomes the constructive efforts of the media in favour of peace during the electoral process.

I. Participation of women, young people and people living with a disability

The inclusion of women, young people and people living with disabilities in the electoral process implies respect for national and international standards prohibiting discrimination and promoting the equality of all before the law.

In this context, the MOEUA welcomed the measures conducive to the participation of women in the electoral process and in political life, including the inclusion of the principle of gender equality in the constitution (art. inclusion of women and persons with disabilities in the lists of candidates (Article 13 of the Electoral Law) and assisted voting (Article 58 of the Electoral Law). It also welcomes the actions of women's organizations to promote the rights of indigenous women and to adopt legal and institutional mechanisms dedicated to this purpose.

However, the MOEUA deplores the lack of effectiveness of such measures, which should have allowed a better political representation of women.

J. Civil society

The MOEUA noted the active participation of civil society organizations in all stages of the electoral process. It noted with satisfaction the involvement of these organizations in the sensitization and education of voters, on the one hand, and in the observation of elections in almost the entire territory of the DRC, on the other. This involvement is also reflected in the establishment of watch cells by platforms that have conducted constructive actions in the field of electoral mediation. These actions are in keeping with the spirit of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. They make citizen election observation a key indicator of the credibility and transparency of electoral processes.

IV. VOTING OBSERVATIONS

The following observations were made by the 23 teams deployed by the MOEUA on the day of the polls. 317 polling stations were visited in the 13 provinces covered.

A. Opening of polling stations

The polling stations visited opened on time.  Nevertheless, the polls began with a delay of up to 5 hours. This delay was due to the start of voting machines, the late arrival of election materials and in a few rare cases, that of election officials.

B. Electoral materials

Electoral materials were available in sufficient quantity in most of the polling stations visited with the exception of a few offices including Limete, Kalemie and Matadi.

C. Election staff

The presence of all the members of the polling stations was observed in the offices visited, all along the voting operations.

The staff of the polling stations showed professionalism. However, the Mission noted inadequate control of voting procedures by election officials in a few offices, including starting the voting machine and installing seals.

D. Electoral participation

Voters rallied throughout the day despite torrential rains in some areas and logistical difficulties. The voters in the queues showed patience and discipline, expressing the popular will to participate in the elections.

In many polling stations visited, efforts have been made to ensure easy access for voters with disabilities, pregnant women, the elderly, etc.

E. Women's participation

The presence of women was noted at polling stations, some of them as presidents. However, the Mission found that this presence was relatively low (1 in 5) inside the country. A good involvement of women as voters, witnesses of candidates and observers was observed.

F. Conduct of polls

In general, the polls took place in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Nevertheless, isolated incidents and some shortcomings enamelled the conduct of the voting operations. Losses in human lives have been deplored in the territory of Walungu (South Kivu). The malfunction of the voting machine, the late availability of the electoral lists and the minutes of the counting and the results have affected the smooth running of operations in some polling stations in the cities of Kinshasa and Kalemie.

The posting of electoral lists at the entrance to polling stations has not been systematic. In the municipality of Limete (Kinshasa), the electoral lists were not available before 11 am.

The abolition of several polling stations in Kinshasa led to an increase in the number of voters in the existing polling stations. Insufficient communication on this issue has hindered the location of offices by reassigned voters.

Assistance was provided to the persons requesting it. In most cases, these people were assisted either by a member of the polling station, by a person of their choice, by a citizen observer or by a candidate / party witness. This, sometimes, to the detriment of the secrecy of the vote.

G. Representation of parties and candidates in polling stations

The presence of the witnesses of the candidates and parties was observed throughout the polls in the polling stations visited. MOEUA noted that they performed their tasks professionally. However, the principle of rotation instituted has not always been respected.

H. Security

The effective securing of the sites and voting operations was carried out discreetly and professionally by the security forces throughout the election.

I. Closing and counting

Closing and counting procedures were conducted in accordance with the legal requirements in the control offices. Election staff compensated for the delay in opening voting operations in the majority of the control offices.

A copy of the minutes of the results was given to the candidates' representatives and the results were posted at the polling station. Nevertheless, the unused ballots were not systematically counted and recorded in the minutes.

CONCLUSION

The general elections of 30 December 2018 are a decisive step in the consolidation of democracy, peace and stability in the DRC. The Mission congratulates the Congolese people for their patience and determination to hold the elections.

The holding of these elections is in itself a first great victory for the Congolese people.

The Congolese people who knew by its conscience, its patience and its fierce determination to finally get out of this infernal spiral of violence and killings gratifies us of elections which proceeded generally in a calm and serene climate, in spite of the interferences and all organizational, political and security challenges.

The Mission strongly hopes that the results to be proclaimed will be in accordance with the vote of the Congolese people.

It urges the actors of the process to preserve the climate of peace that prevailed during this election and urges them to privilege legal channels for possible recourse.

As the electoral process ends only with the inauguration of the new president, the Mission invites all stakeholders to remain involved until its conclusion.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of the above, the MOEUA makes the following preliminary recommendations:

To the Government:

  • pursue its political actions together with the various stakeholders in the electoral process with a view to further promoting the appeasement of the political environment;
  • Provide the country with a consistent body of legal elections;

At the CENI:

  • To communicate more with political actors in order to dispel doubts and maintain a climate of confidence necessary for the settlement of disputes and the calm conduct of the electoral process;
  • Strengthen the capacity of election officials to better assimilate procedures and working tools and to improve the technical conduct of polls;
  • intensify civic and electoral education actions with a view to strengthening the foundations of the culture of citizen participation;
  • Revitalize existing consultation frameworks to promote a more inclusive electoral process;
  • Strengthen electoral logistics planning and implementation;

To political actors:

  • To respect the verdict of the ballot boxes and to privilege legal channels in the event of a dispute with a view to preserving peace and stability;
  • To adopt a code of conduct governing their various activities, particularly during the election period, in order to contribute to the establishment of a healthy political competition.

To civil society:

  • To become more involved in raising awareness among the population in order to strengthen the culture of citizen participation.
  • Advocate with national political forces to promote political dialogue and dispute settlement.

To the international community:

  • To continue to support the DRC and the actors of the electoral process in strengthening democracy and political stability.

 




 

 

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