William Swing, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the DRC, explained at this critical political juncture in the DRC elections that it is important for everyone to remain calm and patient as the results are tabulated.
Official speech at MONUC weekly press conference on Wednesday August 2 2006.
I would like to share with you some of our impressions of the elections which took place on Sunday last.
I would like initially to thank you, the media, for your fidelity, and your interest in the process of which you keep the public regularly informed. We have just experienced some history with the holding of multiparty elections on Sunday July 30 last.
It is an important thing for the Congolese people. We want to show our recognition for being witnesses to this election spirit. For this reason, we pay homage to the Congolese people who voted massively in peace, with patience and dignity on the day.
The rate of participation was very high in almost all the country, thanks to a climate of security, except for Kasaï. I especially noted the strong mobilization of women. I would like to hail also the presence of 1,700 international observers here, as well as 47,000 national observers and 300,000 witnesses of the political parties.
The majority of the elections passed in an atmosphere of security, calm, and without major incidents. There were 49,947 polling stations, the majority of which opened on time. The offices which opened with delay, closed later. There were only minor technical problems such as the burning of electoral materials and polling stations in Kasaï.
The elections of Sunday have been historical which will mark the result of the transition initiated in DRC since 2003. I am delighted by the calm and the serenity in which these elections proceeded. I am also delighted by the good conditions under which the election campaign was held overall. I would like to congratulate the Congolese people once again for their patience, devotion, courage and determination and thus faith in the future of this country.
We in the United Nations and all the other members of the international community are very honoured to be associated with these elections in Congo. You will be perhaps surprised, but it is the largest election ever supported by the United Nations, taking into account three aspects.
Firstly, it is the largest country by far - a third of the United States, fifteen times larger than Europe and larger than the five or six countries which organized elections during the last three or four months.
Secondly, in DRC, we had the largest electorate with more than 25 million voters, which is five million more than in South Africa.
Lastly, to organize the elections was a great challenge in a country which has only 500 km of roads. This is a country which has not had a census since 1984, and finally a country which has not known multiparty elections since 1965. Moreover, the RDC needed 50,000 polling stations. There were other challenges as well.
Despite everything, at MONUC, we were always optimistic. But what was this optimism based on? I will answer by saying three things:
Firstly, as I already said, the elections were characterised by the determination of the Congolese people to choose its leaders in serenity and peace. There is a Congolese proverb that you know and pronounce better than me in Lingala. And this proverb is ?if the fish says to you that the crocodile is sick, it should be believed because they all come from the water?. We listened to the Congolese people.
The second reason for this optimism is based on the great support of the international community since the independence of this beautiful and large country.
The third reason is the state of the preparations and the remarkable work achieved by the Independent Electoral Commission. The Congolese people took a great step since the referendum by expressing its will through these elections to break with 15 years of a history of interminable transitions and political negotiations.
It is a pity that the attention of the general public was always focused on the presidential campaign as there is also a campaign to elect the Parliament, which will be composed of 500 members who will have to choose the Prime Minister. And there will be also the provincial Assemblies which will choose the Senators.
If all proceeded well, it should be recognized however that the remainder of the way is still long, even if a great step were made. We share the concern of the Independent Electoral Commission and of the High Authority of the Media concerning the behavior of certain media and certain actors who were responsible for, and I quote ?obvious violations of the electoral law, as regards publication of the results."
The IEC and the HAM remind the media in the same official statement that the electoral law authorizes the IEC only to publish provisional results. It is necessary to distinguish the irregularities from the frauds. Those which have disputes can carry them out through the proper authorities, named by the electoral law.
While waiting for the results and the resolution of disputes, it is in the interests of the people and of the election process to keep its patience and its calm. In the higher interest of the nation, it is necessary for the election candidates to resist temptation to proclaim unilaterally and precipitately their victory. It is important for them to avoid proclaiming fraud on the Supreme Court of Justice and the IEC who did their work and assumed their responsibility with a respect for the law.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to let them do their work. One should not be afraid of good news - the fact remains that the Congo organized elections. Above all, it is necessary to respect the choice of the people that was expressed in the ballots.
Finally, we say that Sunday July 30 was a great day for the Congolese, who have voted. And I am convinced that these elections will bring much good things to Africa as a whole. One needs a stable country for central Africa. These elections open the doors of a great economy in the interests of the Congolese people.
I finish with a quotation by Mr. Mandela who always said that one has ?the impression of being in physical contact with history."