Elections:

Nov. 26th, 2011 11:05 pm
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YEMEN

Yemen presidential vote set for Feb. 21; Saleh returns home



GAMBIA

Gambia's Jammeh wins disputed elections: Incumbent president in power for 17 years set to begin new five-year term after polls marred by intimidation of voters.


THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

 

Deadly clashes in DRC capital ahead of vote: At least three people killed in Kinshasa as rival campaign rallies are concluded ahead of Monday's vote

DR Congo voters: What elections mean to us: Citizens in eastern DRC tell Al Jazeera why they are looking forward to national elections on November 28.

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo - In the lead up to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second general election since independence in 1960, most analysts have raised the alarm over poor logistical arrangements as well as significant security concerns, due to the continued presence of armed groups in the eastern parts of the country.

Nevertheless, many ordinary citizens of the DRC are looking forward to the elections.

For many, the elections offer a rare opportunity to play a role in who should govern the country, and direct the next phase of their fragile democracy's development.

Al Jazeera’s Azad Essa speaks to residents of Goma and Walikale, both in the North Kivu province in the eastern DRC about why these elections means so much to them.MORe


Who's up? Profile: Joseph Kabila ... Incumbent president is credited for bringing peace but critics say he lacks political vision to lead DRC forward.

When his father, Laurent Kabila, the former president of the DRC, was assassinated in 2001, Joseph Kabila was inadvertently launched into the limelight, securing the presidency and working immediately towards a ceasefire in the country's long-running and overlapping conflicts.

During the first Congo war, Kabila was a guerilla commander in the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL). ??

Following the AFDL's victory and the ousting from power of Mobutu Sese Seko, the long-term ruler of then-Zaire, and until the death of his father, Kabila functioned as chief of staff of the land forces, in charge of government troops during the second Congo war between 1998-2002.

But after his father's death, Kabila was widely credited with arranging a ceasefire at the height of the war which paved the way for the creation of a transitional government, which he headed from 2003.

Kabila survived a series of attempted coups, first in 2003 and then in 2004 before winning in 2006 the DRC’s first general election since independence in 1960.

Though the first round of voting was disputed, Kabila won the second round with 70 per cent of the vote.

Kabila’s critics say that he has failed since then to reform the security sector, improve basic infrastructure and that his administration remains overwhelmingly corrupt. MORE


Profile: Etienne Tshisekedi :After three decades in politics, the veteran is widely regarded as the biggest threat to incumbent Joseph Kabila.


Widely regarded as the DRC’s main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi heads up the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS).

Tshisekedi served in governments during Mobuto Sese Soko's decades-long rule, but became a focal point for opposition when he formed the UDPS in 1980 to counter Mobuto’s party, serving briefly as prime minister on three occasions.

When Laurent Kabila became president in 1997, after Mobuto was usurped from power, political parties were banned until scheduled general elections in 1999.

Tshisekedi was placed on a list drawn up by a constitutional committee of people who could not run for president and was ultimately forced into internal exile in February 1998 after being accused of violating a ban on party politics. He was confined to his village, Mupompa.

Boycotting elections

Tshisekedi refused to join the Kabila government, even after Joseph Kabila took over following the assassination of his father in 2001. He also boycotted the constitutional referendum in 2005 and the elections in 2006.
MORE

Explainer: The DRC elections...DR Congo gears up for only its second national election since independence in 1960 amid fears of violence.

As only the second multiparty national elections since independence in 1960, the legislative and presidential elections scheduled to take place on November 28 are widely seen as a test of DRC’s frail democracy. With the country only recently emerging out of two brutal wars estimated to have cost up to five million lives, stability and development in the DRC is still regarded to be on a knife’s edge.
Such is the scale of volatility and disorganisation that surrounds the vote, that a successful election would be a giant step towards consolidating democracy and governance. But a botched affair could easily catalyse rampant violence and the collapse of the rule of law.

Logistical issues

With poor transport infrastructure and the late delivery of ballot papers, there are fears that voting slips (printed in South Africa) and boxes (62,000 imported from China) will not reach polling stations across the length and breadth of a country the size of Western Europe.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) describes logistics as a bigger issue than security and fears remain that a mismanaged election, together with existing accusations of corrupt voter rolls would give credence to opposition accusations of irregularities should they voice concerns.

Compared to the elections of 2006, the electoral process is firmly in the hands of the DRC administration though delays and disorganisation have raised questions over the country's capacity to stage free and fair elections. But if elections were to be postponed, it would warrant a constitutional crisis since Kabila would have illegally extended his tenure as president.

The candidates

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) cites an estimated 18,500 candidates, representing some 417 parties who have registered for the legislative elections. With 500 seats up for grabs, that means theoretically that an average of 37 candidates will be competing for each seat. However, out of 11 candidates running for president, Joseph Kabila, the incumbent from the the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), through superior access to campaign infrastructure and a disjointed opposition, is expected to be re-elected.MORE
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