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International Delegation Observes Historic Democratic Republic of Congo Elections

The Democratic Republic of Congo held its first presidential and legislative multi-party elections in 40 years on Sunday, July 30. A Carter Center election observation delegation participated in this historic event, with its 58-member international team deployed throughout the country to monitor polling sites, the voting process, and final tabulations. An official statement will be distributed following an Aug. 1 Carter Center press conference in Kinshasa.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo....The Carter Center's 58-member international delegation observed this central African country's historic presidential and legislative elections July 30, led by by Right Honourable Joe Clark, former prime minister of Canada, and Dr. John Stremlau, Carter Center associate executive director for peace programs.

The Carter Center was invited by the Independent Electoral Commission and welcomed by all major political parties to observe the country's first elections in four decades. The delegation arrived here July 25.

A press conference will be held in Kinshasa on Aug. 1, and a preliminary statement will be issued by the Center.

The Center's observers were deployed throughout the country for the elections, with an average of two teams in every province, said Colin Stewart, co-director of the Center's Kinshasa office, in an interview July 28 with Voice of America.

"It's an immense country. Because of the tremendous logistical challenge, these are probably the most difficult elections that we've ever observed. We had to deploy our people well ahead of time to make sure they were in place for the election," he said.

Many of the observers will stay in the field through the calculation process, which is expected to take up to two weeks, Mr. Stewart said.

A team of long-term observers was deployed in mid-April to observe the overall political environment and election preparations. The Center's interim findings have been shared in two pre-election public statements. The remainder of the delegation, representing 17 countries, were deployed to all 10 provinces and Kinshasa to witness poll openings, voting, poll closings, and the entire counting and tabulation of results.

As with all other elections it observes, the Center will issue a report of its findings following this historic event.

"That's one of the key things that we will be doing," Mr. Stewart told VOA. "We will issue a preliminary report on what we have observed about two days after the election. We will follow that up as necessary, as events develop. And then we will ultimately issue a comprehensive final report well after the elections going into the details of all the different aspects of the election and our recommendations for improvements," he said.

The Carter Center's observation missions are conducted in accordance with the "Declaration of Principles and Code of Conduct for International Election Observation," initiated by the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division, the NDI, and The Carter Center, which served as the secretariat for the project. The Declaration, and its accompanying Code of Conduct, bring participating observer groups for the first time under a common set of standards for professional, impartial, and effective observation. Read the Declaration in Englishand French.

DRC Elections and The Carter Center: 
Carter Center Activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo

21 July 2006: Democratic Republic of Congo Election Observation: Joe Clark, John Stremlau to Lead International Delegation (English and French)

12 July 2006:Democratic Republic of Congo Election Preparations: Second Carter Center Statement (English and French)

6 June 2006: First Carter Center Pre-Election Statement on Preparations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (English and French)

2 May 2006: The Carter Center Deploys Election Observers in Democratic Republic of Congo (English and French)

Helpful Sites: Read More

DRC Elections: Key Facts

  • 33 Presidential candidates
  • 9,707 Parliamentary candidates vying for 500 seats
  • 50,000 polling stations located throughout the country
  • 25.6 million eligible voters
  • Official results are scheduled to be announced Sept. 14
  • If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes cast on election day, the top two candidates will face a second round scheduled for Oct. 15, with final results anticipated Nov. 30

DRC: An Overview

  • Formerly known as Zaire
  • Third largest country on the African continent
  • Declared independence from Belgium in 1960
  • Population 56 million
  • Ruled for 32 years by army chief Mobutu Sese Seko, deposed in 1997 by Laurent-Desire Kabila
  • Current President Joseph Kabila, 35, assumed power following his father's assassination in 2001; in July 2003, he announced the formation of a UN-supervised transitional government
  • In 1998, an insurrection initiated by rebels linked to Uganda and Rwanda sparked what has been called "Africa's First World War," involving six other countries
  • More than four million Congolese have died since 1998 as a direct or indirect result of the conflict
  • Approximately 1,200 people continue to die each day in the DRC
  • The DRC is currently among the top 10 countries in the world that produce major minerals like gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and coltan, but its economy remains poor as a result of conflict and corrupt governments
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