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Carter Center Featured Partner: 2011 Elections Observation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Carter Center Health and Peace Programs appreciate the continued support of our foundation, government, and corporate donors and are pleased to highlight their contributions in these regular Web features.

Featured March 2012

In advance of the November 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Carter Center received a formal invitation from the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and was welcomed by Congolese political parties to observe the elections. In August 2011, the Center's Democracy Program launched the international election observation mission, while the Center's Human Rights Program provided technical assistance to a major network of domestic election observers. With the deployment of 20 long-term international observers across all provinces in the DRC, the Center monitored the preparatory activities of the election commission, political parties, civil society organizations, and the international community.

In mid-November 2011, an expanded delegation of 37 medium-term international observers, led by former President of Zambia Rupiah Bwezani Banda and Vice President of Carter Center Peace Programs Dr. John Stremlau, deployed to polling stations in all 11 Congolese provinces and the capital of Kinshasa. The election took place on November 28, with a total of 56 Carter Center observers visiting nearly 300 polling stations across the nation. In a preliminary statement released on November 30, the Center stated that the voting process had been relatively peaceful, despite logistical and technical difficulties faced by CENI.

At the same time, the Center's Human Rights Program worked with its Congolese partner, the Commission Episcopale Justice et Paix (CEJP), to conduct two sets of cascade trainings to prepare a much larger number of Congolese observers. Forty master trainers were trained in Kinshasa and then deployed to train 300 domestic long-term observers throughout the provinces. These domestic long-term observers then trained 6,000 domestic short-term observers at the village and parish level. In addition to setting observer training methodology for all tiers of the cascade, the Center also assisted CEJP in deploying those 6,340 Congolese observers to more than 3,000 polling stations across the DRC. In collaboration with the CEJP, the Center set up and managed a data collection center at their Human Rights House in Kinshasa. This provided critical logistical and communications support for CEJP's domestic observation mission, especially the use of SMS technology to report findings.

Congolese and international observers remained deployed in the provinces to monitor the full presidential and partial legislative counting and tabulation process. As observers reported a significant number of irregularities in the counting process, the Center released a follow-up statement on December 10. The statement noted that the mismanagement of the counting process had undermined the credibility of the election. CEJP also released a series of public statements in December, presenting the findings and conclusions from their domestic observation mission. Their independent findings separately reinforced those of the Carter Center's international mission.

The international election observation mission in the DRC would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners:

  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
    USAID leads the democracy and governance community in the promotion of fair elections and political processes. Its support of credible electoral processes has enabled The Carter Center to observe elections across the world. Its early and considerable assistance was particularly crucial in the successful training and deployment of both the international and domestic observation missions in the DRC, as well as operations at the Carter Center's Human Rights House in Kinshasa.
  • The Netherlands
    The Netherlands has been a vital supporter of election monitoring work at The Carter Center. Its generous contributions to missions, including Sudan, Egypt, Liberia, Zambia, and the DRC, demonstrate its commitment to democracy and human rights through cooperation. Support from the Netherlands was critical in TCC being able to deploy an international mission of sufficient size to cover the entire country of the DRC – a nation the size of western Europe. The support of the Dutch also allowed the Center to establish its Human Rights House in Kinshasa in 2007.
  • Kingdom of Belgium
    The DRC is a priority country for both Belgium and the Center. This has resulted in strategic partnership that stretches back to the 2006 elections. In the DRC, Belgium has worked with The Carter Center to build the capacity and authority of institutions, promote peace and stability, establish rule of law, and advocate for good economic governance and transparency. In addition to long-term support for TCC mining sector reform work in the DRC, Belgium recognized the important role properly trained domestic observers would play in the 2011 elections. Belgian assistance enabled the Center's support for CEJP's successfully executed domestic observation mission.
  • Open Square Charitable Gift Fund at Schwab Charitable
    Open Square is committed to progress in the DRC, particularly in the violence-prone provinces of North and South Kivu, in eastern Congo. Through its support of the domestic election observation mission in the DRC, Open Square ensured that Congolese long-term and short-term observers were deployed to the Kivus. As national coverage for observation of the polling and tabulation processes is the crux of a monitoring mission, such support was a crucial component of the domestic mission's overall success.

Featured donor and supported programs:

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

The Netherlands

Kingdom of Belgium

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