June 27, 2005

Congolese line up for voter registration

There are numberous articles on the voting registration in Congo. I'll spare you but thought you might find this one interesting.

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21/06/2005 Congolese line up for voter registration AP
KINSHASA, Congo -- The lines were long, the process slow and inefficient, people moaned and complained. Thousands of Congolese nonetheless registered to vote Monday for the first time in their lives.

After decades of corruption and war, Congo took a giant step toward democracy, achieving what many hope will end a vicious cycle of misery and horror. Registered voters will be able to cast ballots later this year on a constitutional referendum that will pave the way for 2006 elections.

"You see this process has begun," Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba told reporters at a registration center at Holy Spirit Primary School in the capital's Barumbu district. "We are going for free, fair, and democratic elections."

Registration began Monday in six areas of the capital, Kinshasa, where thousands expected to line up to receive cards by day's end.

The process will expand to the sprawling slums of the capital over the next three days, said Apollinaire Malumalu, head of Congo's Independent Electoral Commission.

The commission expects 3.5 million people in Kinshasa to register, just over a third of the capital's population.

By August, the process will expand to two provinces in the interior, where a lack of roads, continued fighting, banditry and millions of war-displaced residents will prove a logistical challenge.

In a nation of over 50 million, the commission hopes to register about 30 million people.

After Congo's devastating 1998-2002 war, Congo's transitional government is attempting to shepherd the country out of decades-long difficulties.

The 2006 vote will be the first since Congo achieved independence from Belgium in 1960. Five years later, Mobutu Sese Seko took power and ruled as a dictator until 1997, when he was overthrown by the rebel leader Laurent Kabila.

Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and replaced by his son Joseph, who helped bring an end to the war and start the process toward elections.

"Mobutu or Kabila never gave us elections," said Kumbu Kiswa, 45, who stood in line at the primary school. "It is with great pleasure that I'm here right now. I mean, look, it's happening."

Inside one registration center, residents showed identification and entered their information into a computer database. A photo was taken, and fingerprints scanned.

Most of the computers and voting materials were financed by the international community. Malumalu has said voting materials, security, logistics and organizing elections will cost approximately $430 million.

However, Monday's registration was not without problems. At Holy Spirit, residents were turned away for not having proper identification.

Most residents in the country don't have ID cards, having destroyed or lost their Zaire-issued
identification after the late Kabila took power and changed the country's name back to Congo.

People without proper identification were allowed to bring five witnesses to verify their identity, but for some it wasn't enough.

"It takes so long," said Placid Iyeko, 32. "I think this country can achieve elections, but not with this system."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they're taking photos and scanning fingerprints! That's more sophisticated than in the U.S. :)
-Ammo

007 in Africa said...

Ya I know isn't it weird? Anyways, it seems a bit pointless to take fingerprints when you don't have a fingerprint datbased to compare it to.

Victoria said...

But they're creating one. So is it finally starting then? Or is it too little too late?

Bob said...

Hey. been MIA - I think this was my first time checking up on your blog in months! We'll see about getting mine up and running again. Send me an E-mail when you get a chance and let me know how things are going.

Beaver said...

Wow ! Thanks for detail on this 007...

Not sure I'd want them to have my pic and fingerprints to be honest... (*shudders*)

By the way, Happy Independance Day !

(Canada Day was yesterday so happy Canada Day to me !)

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