Submit this form
Home News Videos Music Photos Facebook Twitter Friends Newsletter Podcasts Mobile RSS
Vote starts with good turnout

Previous article | Next

Click here to enlarge image
©  David Hecht/IRIN

Supporters in Kinshasa of the opposition Union Pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social party which did not participating in Sunday's elections.

KINSHASA, 30 Jul 2006 (IRIN) - In the first democratic elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in more than 40 years, people started lining up early in the morning in many voting stations in Kinshasa and the east.

"I voted for the first time in my life!" shouted one man with excitement as he left the voting station at the Roman Catholic school next to St Anne's Cathedral in the centre of Kinshasa. "Thanks be to God. Long live the Congo."

Voters stood in long queues in the hot sun in various Kinshasa suburbs, including Lemba, Matete and Ngaba. Many expressed joy and pride at being able to choose their country's leaders.

"After being colonised and oppressed we are finally the masters of our own destiny," Pierre Sungu, an elderly man waiting in the queue next to the cathedral, said.

Voting was so heavy at the school that by 11:00 (14:00 GMT) ballot papers could not fit into the ballot box. The proceedings continued once an official had taken a stick and squashed the ballots into the voting boxes to make room for more papers.

Voter turnout was also high 2,000 km east of Kinshasa. Long queues started forming in the early morning in and around Bukavu, the provincial capital of South Kivu. "I thought it was important to come early," Nanamie Bitendanwa, 30, said as she lined up at a voting station near the city centre. "We had been mistreated by yesterday's leaders. Now I hope we can choose more responsible people who will have to answer to us."

Lines were also long at voting stations in Bunia, capital of Congo's troubled northeastern Ituri District. Voting was interrupted at one station in the suburb of Nyakasanza by a drunken policeman but the situation was otherwise calm.

In rural areas around Bunia people faced more serious obstacles. A militia set up a roadblock at the village of Loribi, 20 km south of Bunia. IRIN talked to a group of 100 people who had walked 10 km to get to a voting station but the militia had forced them to turn back. "We are very disappointed," Joel Mandro, one of the would-be voters, said.

In the western port town of Matadi, Bas-Congo Province, many people could not vote because their names were not on the voter registration list. The Independent Electoral Commission had said that at least 1.2 million of the 25.7 million names on the voter list had gone missing but that the index numbers on their voter cards could still be used as identification. Even so, officials at the polling stations turned them away.

Similar problems were being reported in the towns of Tshikapa, in Kasia Occidental Province, and in Kinshasa.

The head of the electoral commission, Apollinaire Malumalu, said at a news conference in Kinshasa on Sunday that some people in the town of Gemena, Equateur Province, were trying to vote by force in stations where they were not registered. "They have to realise that they can only vote were they are registered," he said.

Malumalu also said he had heard that people in Kinshasa and Kalima, in Maniema Province, were paying people to vote for their party. Two people at the news conference said they had seen a representative from President Joseph Kabila's party paying voters. Afterwards a representative from the party denied the accusation.

There appeared to be low turn-out in the capital of Kasia Occidental, Mbuji Mayi, the stronghold of long-time opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi, who, along with his party, the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS), did not participate in the elections.

"The only way we can have a voice is to stay away from the polls," a Tshisekedi supporter said.

Tshisekedi had called for a boycott, then decided to run, but by then the electoral commission had said it was too late.

On Saturday in Mbuji Mayi a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a truck full of electoral material. The truck caught fire and exploded. The vice-president of the electoral commission, Norbert Basengez, said on Saturday that the truck only contained voting booths and kits, not actual ballots.

"The incident will not disrupt the voting," he had said.

Three of the vice-presidents in the current transitional government, who were former rebel leaders, boycotted a meeting on Saturday with the head of the commission to protest at the shooting of bodyguards of one vice-president, Azarias Rubewa, by President Kabila's guards. However, in a joint news conference, the vice-presidents said people should still vote.

"We ask all citizens to vote even though there are security concerns and many technical problems with the elections," Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, one of the four vice-presidents in the outgoing transitional government, said.

With 25.7 million registered voters, UN officials say this is the largest election it has supported and logistically the most difficult. "There are almost no roads in this country," said Michel Bonardeux, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, MONUC. "Hundreds of tonnes of election material had to be sent by air."

The logistical challenges mean results will take time. "We have promised the results for the presidential elections will take no longer than three weeks," Malumalu said on Saturday. "Partial results for the parliament could come in sooner.

[Countdown in Congo


Related articles


  1. Jean-Pierre Bemba Returns to DR Congo (August 1, 2018)
  2. At least 30 dead after massacres in Ituri (March 2, 2018)
  3. Botswana Urges Joseph Kabila to Step Down (February 26, 2018)
  4. No elections in DR Congo in December without electronic voting machines: INEC (February 13, 2018)
  5. US Warns DR Congo Against Electronic Voting for Delayed Election (February 12, 2018)
  6. Felix Tshisekedi accuses INEC of illegally prolonging Kabila's mandate (October 24, 2017)
  7. DRC Seeks Arrest of Presidential Candidate Moise Katumbi (May 19, 2016)
  8. Papa Wemba Is Buried in Kinshasa (May 4, 2016)
  9. Papa Wemba Awarded Highest National Honor as Thousands Pay Tribute (May 2, 2016)
  10. DR Congo reach final of African Nations Championship (February 3, 2016)
  11. Political tensions 'running high' in DR Congo ahead of 2016 elections (October 7, 2015)
  12. Rights Groups: DR Congo Must Free Pro-democracy Activists (April 13, 2015)
  13. Police Open Fire on Crowd Protesting Election Law Change (January 19, 2015)
  14. DR Congo: The country that knows how to beat Ebola (December 11, 2014)
  15. ICC Confirms 14-Year Sentence Against Thomas Lubanga (December 1, 2014)
  16. Ebola Epidemic Resurfaces in DR Congo's Equateur Province (August 25, 2014)
  17. Etienne Tshisekedi Evacuated to Belgium for Medical Treatment (August 16, 2014)
  18. ICC sentences Germain Katanga to 12 years (May 23, 2014)
  19. 15 dead in football match stampede in Kinshasa (May 12, 2014)
  20. Kerry Calls on Kabila to Honor Constitution (May 4, 2014)
  21. Kerry in DR Congo for Security Talks (May 3, 2014)
  22. Security Council extends UN mission, intervention force in DR Congo for one year (March 28, 2014)
  23. Death toll in Lake Albert boat accident rises to 108 people (March 24, 2014)
  24. ICC finds Germain Katanga guilty of war crimes and crime against humanity (March 7, 2014)
  25. DR Congo Takes Chairmanship of COMESA at Summit in Kinshasa (February 26, 2014)
  26. Bosco Ntaganda Attacked Civilians on Ethnic Grounds, ICC Prosecutor Says (February 10, 2014)
  27. DR Congo Honors Nelson Mandela, Hero and Model for Humanity (December 6, 2013)
  28. Kabila Congratulates Congo Army for Defeating M23 Rebels (October 30, 2013)
  29. M23 Rebels Kill, Rape Civilians in Eastern Congo: Human Rights Watch (July 22, 2013)
  30. DR Congo Eases Process for Starting a New Business (June 3, 2013)


Live TV Congo Radio en ligne Radio


Make CongoPlanet.com Your Home Page | Contact Us | About Us | Édition en Français | French Edition

© 2018 CongoPlanet.com. All rights reserved.