British MP affirms Congo poll and church-backed monitoring

By staff writers
August 9, 2006

British MP affirms Congo poll and church-backed monitoring

-09/08/06

International organisations and church groups have raised concerns over the counting of the ballots ten days after the Democratic Republic of Congoís presidential elections on Sunday 30 July 2006 ñ ahead of results expected at the end of August.

However polling day went well overall and voting was transparent according to Labour MP Judy Mallaber, who was monitoring the elections with UK churchesí agency Christian Aid through the EURAC network.

Anglicans and Mennonites were among the other church-sponsored observers who helped with the election observing process in Congo.

However, concerns have been raised about the counting of votes in the historic poll. International observers who initially welcomed the high turnout of voters and a successful run of the elections, have since witnessed the dumping of large numbers of ballot papers outside counting offices.

But British Member of Parliament Judy Mallaber declared this week: ìElection officials have been working incredibly hard. Where we were in the Bas-Congo, they were very meticulous, double-checking numbers. On the whole, the elections went well, without intimidation from the police, and were transparent.î

Ms Mallaber said she did observe some logistical difficulties caused by the high illiteracy rate or the huge number of candidates. Sometimes it was quite dark in some polling stations and people couldnít see very well what they were doing.

However the MP praised the enthusiasm of the Congolese people and their discipline as they queued in front of ballot stations. Preliminary statistics have recorded more than 80 per cent of turnout.

Mallaber also stressed the importance of the EURAC mission and its crucial role in giving local people and the international community confidence in the results of the elections.

Finally, she added how much she had appreciated monitoring the elections with the civil society. ìI am incredibly grateful to Christian Aid for enabling us to attend such a day. I think the image of people queuing up in front of polling stations will stay with me forever. If we could achieve stability in this part of Africa, it would have huge repercussions for the rest of the continent.î

Due to the large size of the country, the final results are not expected to be available until the end of August. Thirty-two candidates ran for presidency, while more than 9,000 candidates stood for parliament. More than 17,000 UN peacekeepers and 2,000 EU troops were deployed to help ensure peace during the vote.

[Also on Ekklesia: Churches keep watchful eye on Congo's historic poll; UK Anglican election observer invited to Congo by Mennonites; Mennonites to play mediating role in Congolese election; Churches work together for Great Lakes region of Africa; 'Never again' fund launched for genocide victims; Christian delegation meets with Rwandan President; Fairtrade and conflict-free diamonds]

British MP affirms Congo poll and church-backed monitoring

-09/08/06

International organisations and church groups have raised concerns over the counting of the ballots ten days after the Democratic Republic of Congoís presidential elections on Sunday 30 July 2006 ñ ahead of results expected at the end of August.

However polling day went well overall and voting was transparent according to Labour MP Judy Mallaber, who was monitoring the elections with UK churchesí agency Christian Aid through the EURAC network.

Anglicans and Mennonites were among the other church-sponsored observers who helped with the election observing process in Congo.

However, concerns have been raised about the counting of votes in the historic poll. International observers who initially welcomed the high turnout of voters and a successful run of the elections, have since witnessed the dumping of large numbers of ballot papers outside counting offices.

But British Member of Parliament Judy Mallaber declared this week: ìElection officials have been working incredibly hard. Where we were in the Bas-Congo, they were very meticulous, double-checking numbers. On the whole, the elections went well, without intimidation from the police, and were transparent.î

Ms Mallaber said she did observe some logistical difficulties caused by the high illiteracy rate or the huge number of candidates. Sometimes it was quite dark in some polling stations and people couldnít see very well what they were doing.

However the MP praised the enthusiasm of the Congolese people and their discipline as they queued in front of ballot stations. Preliminary statistics have recorded more than 80 per cent of turnout.

Mallaber also stressed the importance of the EURAC mission and its crucial role in giving local people and the international community confidence in the results of the elections.

Finally, she added how much she had appreciated monitoring the elections with the civil society. ìI am incredibly grateful to Christian Aid for enabling us to attend such a day. I think the image of people queuing up in front of polling stations will stay with me forever. If we could achieve stability in this part of Africa, it would have huge repercussions for the rest of the continent.î

Due to the large size of the country, the final results are not expected to be available until the end of August. Thirty-two candidates ran for presidency, while more than 9,000 candidates stood for parliament. More than 17,000 UN peacekeepers and 2,000 EU troops were deployed to help ensure peace during the vote.

[Also on Ekklesia: Churches keep watchful eye on Congo's historic poll; UK Anglican election observer invited to Congo by Mennonites; Mennonites to play mediating role in Congolese election; Churches work together for Great Lakes region of Africa; 'Never again' fund launched for genocide victims; Christian delegation meets with Rwandan President; Fairtrade and conflict-free diamonds]

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