A Congolese woman casts her ballot in the village of Mugunga, just outside Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo 2006, during the country's first democratic polls in more than 40 years.
Photo: Stephen Morrison/EPA/Scanpix
Six million voters to be registered
As a first step for the local elections in 2009, all new voters need to be registered. To test the equipment and the voters’ understanding of the voting process, a pilot project was run in three registry offices in Kinshasa, the capital. Thousands of people went to one of the offices to check their details and more than 600 new people were registered.
Raquel Rico-Bernabe at the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) election division says: “This is very important because the last registration was done three years ago and at the next election another four or five years will have passed. In Congo, about 1.5 million people reach voting age every year. This means that there will be five or six million people who have the right to vote but who aren’t registered.”
The pilot project has gone well and the real registering has begun in Kinshasa. The registration will go on for 60 days before it moves on across the country. Six thousand boxes with registering equipment have been assembled. They each contain a laptop, a web camera, a fingerprint reader, a printer and a generator.
The UNDP is also supporting the independent election commission by training police officers and observers before the election.
2006 presidential election
The UNDP was also on site to provide support when the first democratic election in more than 40 years, the 2006 presidential election, was held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sitting president Joseph Kabila won the election and became the first democratically elected president in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a very long time.
The EU also supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the 2006 election. The EU Commission contributed EUR 200 million, which went towards training 300,000 election workers so that they could take care of the 27 million people who were eligible to vote. To guarantee that everything went smoothly, the EU Commission employed 50,000 local observers and sent 250 European observers to monitor the election.
In a film about the EU’s efforts during the election, Apollinaire Malu-Malu, chairman of the election committee, says: “We had a one-party system for over 30 years, so there was a serious lack of legitimacy in the state’s power.”