DRC: Transition to democracy: June - December 2006
Updated January 2007
Considerable progress was made by the Transitional Government towards setting in place the legal and institutional foundations for a democratic state. Electoral Laws were promulgated and an Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) was set up (Institute for Security Studies 2005). With MONUC and foreign assistance the CEI was able to rollout its structures and engage in a massive voter registration process. Despite enormous logistical difficulties, violence directed at it, especially in Kivu and Ituri, and a boycott by Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UDPS) of Etienne Tshisekedi, voter registration was largely successful. Some 26 million voters from a total population of 58 million people were registered (Fisher-Thompson 2006).
As a result a successful referendum on a new constitution was held on 18 and 19 December 2005, which, despite a boycott by the UDPS, achieved a voter turnout of just under 75% (See 2005 Constitutional referendum results). The electorate overwhelmingly endorsed the new constitution, with 83% of voters supporting it.
Parliamentary and first round presidential elections were held on 30 July 2006. The Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social of Etienne Tshisekedi, which boycotted first the voter registration process and then the referendum, boycotted the elections themselves, for their demand that the voter registration process be reopened was not met. Joseph Kabila (standing as an independent), with 44.81% of the vote, and Jean Pierre Bemba (Mouvement de Libération du Congo), with 20.03% of the vote, advanced to the second round of the presidential election. Parliamentary results shadowed these trends with Kabila's allies winning the largest block of seats followed by the block of parties supporting Bemba.
The provincial legislature and second round of presidential elections were held on 29 October 2006. The candidates who had won third and fourth place in the presidential elections, Antoine Gizenga (Parti Lumumbiste Unifié) and Joseph Mobutu (Union des Démocrates Mobutistes) respectively, supported the candidacy of Kabila. The period before the conduct of the polls was marked by violent confrontations between the supporters and the armed forces of the two candidates in Kinshasa. Kabila won 58.05% of the vote and Bemba 41.95%. Bemba contested the validity of the results, alleging widespread fraud. However, the results were confirmed by the Supreme Court on the 27 November 2006 and Bemba announced that he would accept the position as leader of the opposition.
FISHER-THOMPSON, J 2006, "Democratic Republic of Congo Elections Pose Enormous Challenges", 3 June, GlobalSecurity.com, [www] http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2006/06/mil-060603-usia01.htm [opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).