A Voice For the Voiceless


The Advocacy Project (AP) recruits students to help marginalized communities tell their story and claim their rights.

My RSS Feed

Twitter: #apfellows

Sud Kivu Election Diary III: Young Democracy

Walter James | PostedNovember 3rd, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In 2006, the Democratic Republic of Congo held its first multiparty elections in 46 years. At the time, the Congo was emerging from many years of war, involving all of its neighbors and other African nations. There was a fragile peace, or, in the case of the Kivus, none at all.

The 2006 election was largely financed by international donors, who accounted for 90% of the financial burden. In addition, MONUC, UNDP, and other international agencies provided much-needed oversight and guidance. After all, this was a country that had just been recently reunited through a weak peace agreement, and many of the major players still had armed groups at their disposal.

Now, the situation is quite different, as Joseph Kabila and the rest of the government represent a much stronger, democratically-elected Democratic Republic of Congo. Things may still be bad, but they are still better from the cauldron of chaos of the late 90s/early 2000s. However, there are still signs of trouble.

One particularly eyebrow-raising development of 2011 election process has been the recent changes to the Congolese constitution, which, among other things, has altered the presidential election system from a 2-round, majority-wins election to a 1-round, plurality-wins election.

When the Congolese National Assembly and Senate passed these controversial amendments, there were immediately allegations of bribery against President Kabila. A 1-round plurality-wins election would make things easier for Kabila to divide the opposition and win with a much smaller percentage of the national vote. In addition, it appeared suspicious that these amendments were passed so quickly through the Congolese legislature, given its reputation as a body that usually works grindingly slow. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a single-round election (or with the changes to the constitution, if indeed there was no bribery), the problem is that it appears to have occurred only to the benefit of Kabila. The sole argument, it seems, for the public benefit of these electoral changes is that it will save money for the Congolese state, which is now carrying 60% of the cost of the election.

A report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) released back in May gives a rather pessimistic image of the 2011 elections: opposition supporters and journalists are being harassed and beaten during demonstrations, there is a considerable lack of much-needed international involvement, the CENI (the national electoral commission) is politically biased, there is not enough election security, and the proposed November 28th election date is too soon to organize a free-and-fair election. However, if the date of the election is pushed back, there is sure to be controversy, as Kabila’s term expires on December 7th by constitutional mandate. There are already rumors that members of the opposition (notably Etienne Tshisekedi) are planning on demanding a power-sharing agreement if there is no clear winner by the date on which Kabila’s term ends.

So, what is going on here in Uvira? All over town, posters are plastered onto walls and kiosks, and men on foot or bicycles are advertising for various candidates via megaphone. Things are calm so far.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Sud Kivu Election Diary III: Young Democracy”

  1. Political Business Opportunity…

    [...]Sud Kivu Election Diary III: Young Democracy | Walter James[...]…

  2. JYJ says:

    Calm is good. We could use some calm on this side of the pond.

Leave a Reply

Security Code:

Fellow: Walter James

SOS Femmes en Danger


advocacy project africa amani leo arche d'alliance baraka congo corruption CTLVS drc dr congo elections etienne tshisekedi fardc fdlr fizi fnl gender equality great lakes region haut plateau human rights joseph kabila justice kifaru kikonde kikoze luvungi mai mai mass rape mboko monusco ocha pprd rape refugees sexual violence sos fed sos femmes en danger south kivu sud kivu tanganyika unhcr uvira violence war women's rights




2013 Fellows


Benan Grams
Meron Menwyelet
Mohammed Alshubrumi
John Steies


Andra Bosneag
Chris Pinderhughes
Emily MacDonald
Jasveen Bindra
Kelly Howell
Raymond Aycock
Sujita Basnet

Middle East

Mona Niebuhr

2012 Fellows


Dane Macri
Laura McAdams
Mallory Minter
Megan Orr
Oluwatooni Akanni
Katie Hoffman


Adam Kruse
Alex Kelly
Alicia Evangelides
Heather Webb
Jesse Cottrell
Matthew Becker
Rachel Palmer


Claire Noone
Elise Filo

Latin America

Laura Burns

Middle East

Nur Arafeh
Thayer Hastings

North America

Caroline Risacher

2011 Fellows


Charlie Walker
Charlotte Bourdillon
Cleia Noia
Dina Buck
Jamyel Jenifer
Kristen Maryn
Rebecca Scherpelz
Scarlett Chidgey
Walter James


Amanda Lasik
Chantal Uwizera
Chelsea Ament
Clara Kollm
Corey Black
Lauren Katz
Maelanny Purwaningrum
Maria Skouras
Meredith Williams
Ryan McGovern
Samantha Syverson


Beth Wofford
Julia Dowling
Quinn Van Valer-Campbell
Samantha Hammer
Susan Craig-Greene

Latin America

Amy Bracken
Catherine Binet

Middle East

Nikki Hodgson

North America

Sarah Wang

2010 Fellows


Abisola Adekoya
Annika Allman
Brooke Blanchard
Christine Carlson
Christy Gillmore
Dara Lipton
Dina Buck
Josanna Lewin
Joya Taft-Dick
Louis Rezac
Ned Meerdink
Sylvie Bisangwa


Adrienne Henck
Karie Cross
Kerry McBroom
Kate Bollinger
Lauren Katz
Simon Kläntschi
Zarin Hamid


Laila Zulkaphil
Susan Craig-Greene
Tereza Bottman

Latin America

Karin Orr

North America

Adepeju Solarin
Oscar Alvarado

2009 Fellows


Adam Welti
Alixa Sharkey
Barbara Dziedzic
Bryan Lupton

Courtney Chance
Elisa Garcia
Helah Robinson
Johanna Paillet
Johanna Wilkie
Kate Cummings
Laura Gordon
Lisa Rogoff
Luna Liu
Ned Meerdink
Walter James


Abhilash Medhi
Gretchen Murphy
Isha Mehmood
Jacqui Kotyk
Jessica Tirado
Kan Yan
Morgan St. Clair
Ted Mathys


Alison Sluiter
Christina Hooson
Donna Harati
Fanny Grandchamp
Kelsey Bristow
Simran Sachdev
Susan Craig-Greene
Tiffany Ommundsen

Latin America

Althea Middleton-Detzner
Carolyn Ramsdell
Jessica Varat
Lindsey Crifasi
Rebecca Gerome
Zachary Parker

Middle East

Corrine Schneider
Rachel Brown
Rangineh Azimzadeh

North America

Elizabeth Mandelman
Farzin Farzad

2008 Fellows

Adam Nord
Annelieke van de Wiel
Juliet Hutchings
Kristina Rosinsky
Lucas Wolf
Chi Vu
Danita Topcagic
Heather Gilberds
Jes Therkelsen
Libby Abbott
Mackenzie Berg
Nicole Farkouh
Ola Duru
Paul Colombini
Raka Banerjee
Shubha Bala
Antigona Kukaj
Colby Pacheco
James Dasinger
Janet Rabin
Nicole Slezak
Shweta Dewan
Amy Offner
Ash Kosiewicz
Hannah McKeeth
Heidi McKinnon
Larissa Hotra
Hannah Wright
Krystal Sirman
Rianne Van Doeveren
Willow Heske

2007 Fellows

Johnathan Homer
Adam Nord
Audrey Roberts
Caitlin Burnett
Devin Greenleaf
Jeff Yarborough
Julia Zoo
Madeline England
Maha Khan
Mariko Scavone
Mark Koenig
Nicole Farkouh
Saba Haq
Tassos Coulaloglou
Ted Samuel
Alison Morse
Gail Morgado
Jennifer Hollinger
Katie Wroblewski
Leslie Ibeanusi
Michelle Lanspa
Stephanie Gilbert
Zach Scott
Abby Weil
Jessica Boccardo
Sara Zampierin
Eliza Bates
Erin Wroblewski
Tatsiana Hulko

2006 Interns

Laura Cardinal
Jessical Sewall
Alison Long
Autumn Graham
Donna Laverdiere
Erica Issac
Greg Holyfield
Lori Tomoe Mizuno
Melissa Muscio
Nicole Cordeau
Stacey Spivey
Anya Gorovets
Barbara Bearden
Lynne Engleman
Yvette Barnes
Charles Wright
Sarah Sachs

2005 Interns

Eun Ha Kim
Malia Mason
Anne Finnan
Carrie Hasselback
Karen Adler
Sarosh Syed
Shirin Sahani
Chiara Zerunian
Ewa Sobczynska
MacKenzie Frady
Margaret Swink
Sabri Ben-Achour
Nitzan Goldberger

2004 Interns

Ginny Barahona
Michael Keller
Sarah Schores
Melinda Willis
Pia Schneider
Stacy Kosko
Carmen Morcos
Christina Fetterhoff
Stacy Kosko
Bushra Mukbil

2003 Interns

Erica Williams
Kate Kuo
Claudia Zambra
Julie Lee
Kimberly Birdsall
Marta Schaaf
Caitlin Williams
Courtney Radsch