Kisangani, D.R. Congo Election Preview

Tomorrow, amidst all the hype and predictions of delays, D.R. Congo goes to the polls in its second presidential election since the end of the Second Congo War. Today, election officials gave the final go-ahead for the election, despite concerns that many polling stations will not have adequate voting materials.

The major contenders for president are: Kabila, Tshisekedi, and Kamerhe. Last week, the BBC did an interesting profile piece on these three men.

While most of the media attention has been on the race for Big Man, the country is voting for all levels of government. Over 18,000 contenders are vying for just 500 open seats in the national legislature.

One contender, the tolekist Alphonse Awenze Makiaba, candidate No.48, is looking to score a seat for Oriental Province- Kisangani. Previously, this blog reported about the bicycle taxi driver’s rise to become one of the leading opposition candidates for the area. Awenze began his campaign as a voice for the common man in Kisangani – refusing to take campaign donations or to engage in patronage politics.

However, A Crowing Hen has learned that during President Kabila’s trip to Kisangani 18-19 November, No.48 accepted a car in exchange for throwing in his support for the incumbent president. During his speech in Kisangani’s main square, President Kabila announced that the Boyomais should vote No.48 for Candidate Deputy National and No.3 (himself) for President. The BBC has also reported on Awenze.

This recent change in non-aligned status sent a tremor through the Kisangani community, especially those who saw the tolekist as a voice of reason against the endless political corruption and patronage that could be considered Kabila family heritage. Tomorrow, in addition to picking their next president, Boyomais will have to decide whether No.48 is still the voice of change he claims to be. Unfortunately, the world will have to wait until December 6th for the final results.

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