While you’ve probably been on holiday, electoral staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been busily counting votes, trying to get a result from the presidential and legislative elections held a week ago. But so far to no avail: according to the BBC, the electoral commission says that only 53% of votes have been counted.
Meanwhile, the government has no doubt also been working overtime, trying to find a way in which it can massage or falsify the results to create a victory for its preferred candidate, former interior minister Emmanuel Shadary, in such a way that will not lead to worldwide condemnation.
As I said last week, elections in a country like the DRC are a logistical nightmare, so I don’t blame the commission for not being able to produce results quickly. But I doubt very much that the delay would be so pronounced if the votes were running in Shadary’s favor.
The country’s Catholic church, in a careful but strongly worded statement last week (credit to the Guardian for providing the link), said that on the basis of verbal reports from polling stations it knew who had won the presidential vote, and called on the commission to publish the results “with respect for truth and justice.”
It’s easy to see how this could end badly, as so many other things have in the DRC’s history. But it’s also possible that international pressure will bring president Joseph Kabila to the realisation that a peaceful transfer of power would do much more credit to his legacy than a stolen election.