Although returns have not been certified, reports from the field and teams of independent international observers noted that the November 28 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo were fraught with irregularities.
The first Congolese-organized poll since the end of the devastating civil war in 2003, the vote was an important opportunity to reinforce stability in the DRC. Though the scale of the logistical challenges were well known, given the nation’s huge size and sparse development, the elections as conducted lacked transparency and did not measure up to the democratic gains seen in recent African elections.
The United States continues to follow the situation closely, and has encouraged the relevant Congolese authorities to review identified irregularities with maximum openness and transparency. While many of the irregularities raise concerns, it is unclear whether they would have changed the election results.
As the country’s Supreme Court reviews the returns and assesses their validity, and as election officials look into charges of voting irregularities, it is important that all Congolese political leaders and their supporters act responsibly, renounce violence, and resolve any disputes through dialogue and existing legal remedies. The United States is encouraged that the Congolese government is willing to accept technical assistance from the U.S. and others to address concerns about the elections.
A speedy technical review of the electoral process itself may determine ways to provide more credible results, shed light on the causes of the irregularities, suggest ways in which governance could be structured to give better effect to the will of the Congolese people, and help guide future elections.