In Congo, a countdown under pressure

"We wade", admits an employee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). Four days after the ballot that the Congo has been waiting for for two years, and which must name the successor of Joseph Kabila, the minutes of the results are still dripping in the 179 compilation centers of the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. At the communal house of Lemba, in Kinshasa, the heavy white bags containing the PV, the ballots, the sheets of registration of the observers, and a dozen other official documents, for each of the three votes (presidential, legislative, territorial) , are unloaded in the muddy yard.

Even before being received by the compilation center, they are disemboweled on the ground. "The presidents of polling stations have not been well trained, we have to retract all the documents before officially delivering them", calmly explains a polling center leader, focused on his ranking. In Lemba, Thursday morning, the actual compilation phase had not started yet.

Ditto in the center of Lingwala, opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, where torn plastic envelopes fly in the wind. An agent tries to make a tent with a blue tarpaulin and cardboard booths as pillars. Mountains of paper pile up in the corners. In the shadows, men and women are busy filling out minutes. "Fortunately, I found a carbon copy of the results, I just have to copy, says a swimming professor. But it takes time, I have not seen my family for three days. " Behind him, a meticulous colleague arranges his sealed envelopes by lining them on the beaten earth: each line represents a polling station, each column a poll. A stone by fold, to prevent gales. "And we are in the capital, in the city center! Imagine the situation in the province, plague the professor.

RFI cut

The schedule of the CENI – rarely respected until now – foresaw the announcement of provisional results of the presidential election before January 6. But his boss, Corneille Nangaa, has already suggested to Agence France Presse that the date could be postponed as delays accumulate. "We do not sleep. We do our best to publish the results on the 6th. But if we do not get there, we can not do it. he commented. We thought we could transmit the results from the voting machine to help us publish them quickly, but no one wanted this procedure [d’envoi électronique]" difficult to control by observers.

Since Monday noon, access to the Internet and social networks has been suspended throughout the country. "There are people who intoxicate the population with false figures concerning elections. And this prepared the people for a popular uprising, justified the spokesman of President Kabila, Barnabas Kikaya. In a joint statement, representatives of the European Union and the United States in the DRC "Asked the government not to block the means of communication, including access to the Internet and the media" – the minimum service in terms of diplomatic injunction. The signal of RFI, very listened in Congo, was cut, and the correspondent of the French radio in Kinshasa, Florence Morice, was withdrawn its accreditation.

"Africa's eyes are on you"

With the approach of the fateful date, the pressure is accentuated on the CENI and on the Congolese power, accused by the opposition to control underhand the electoral body. "Sunday's elections were neither free nor fair, commented the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives in Washington the day after the vote. The United States must redouble its efforts to support the Congolese people, who want a peaceful transition and a government that meets their priorities. Our European and African partners must also commit themselves. " African Union observation mission, while welcoming Wednesday elections "Which took place overall in a calm and serene climate," said she "Strongly hopes that the results to be proclaimed will be in accordance with the vote of the Congolese people" – meaning implicitly that the opposite is envisaged.

The opposition, especially Martin Fayulu, at the head of the Lamuka coalition ("wake up," in Lingala), is convinced that he won the election. "Africa's eyes are on you, added the AU's special envoy, former Mali President Dioncounda Traoré, at the end of a meeting with Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, the two main opponents, a representative of Emmanuel Shadary, the candidate of power , and Corneille Nangaa. Make sure we are not disappointed. "

limpid

But the pressure is exerted especially from the interior of the country. On Thursday, Father Donatien Nshole, spokesman for the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (Cenco), read in front of the press the report of the observation mission set up by the Church, which had deployed more than 40,000 observers on the field Sunday. "The data available to us, from the minutes of the polling stations, consecrate the choice of a candidate as President of the Republic, he concluded, in front of a room suddenly silent. The Ceni is called to publish election results in the respect of truth and justice. "

The warning is subtle, but clear. Cenco will not publish its numbers because "The law forbids him", said the abbot, but she reserves the right to "challenge" those published by the Ceni, "based on [ses] estimates ". There is no doubt that Congolese will have more faith in the religious institution than in their Electoral Commission.

Célian Macé Special Envoy to Kinshasa

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