Congo Election Results Raise 'Serious Questions'

Preliminary election results showing incumbent Congolese President Joseph Kabila with the lead are "in accordance with neither truth nor justice," said Kinshasa Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo. "The observations of the bishops' conference and of national and international electoral observers raise some serious questions about the credibility of these elections," the cardinal said Dec. 12. He also referred to the deaths of 18 people in election-related violence and urged those who contest the election results to "avail themselves of lawful means and not resort to violence." The National Independent Electoral Council said Dec. 8 that Kabila won with 49 percent of the vote, but the results still had to be confirmed by Congo's Supreme Court. That same day, the bishops issued a more cautious statement indicating that the church did not have enough observers on the ground to gather sufficient information to either confirm or refute the preliminary results. The statement was issued after the Congolese Embassy in Belgium reported that the church had approved the elections. A Dec. 8 statement from the bishops' conference said that although the church had observers at 3,000 polling stations during the Nov. 28 elections, it represented less than 3 percent of the polls in Congo. The statement said that, of the polling stations observed, in more than 97 percent of the cases, the results pinned up on the door afterward were in conformity with what they observed. However, church observers also spotted some serious irregularities: intimidation of voters; voting interruptions for unspecified reasons; anomalies in the tallies; polling stations not receiving all their materials. "These irregularities and weaknesses, feared by the bishops as challenges to deal with in the future, must now be the central concern of the government, the electoral council, political parties and Congolese voters," the Dec. 8 statement said.

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