The International Committee of the Wise act as advisors and mediators in the DRC electoral process. We spoke to the Committee president and former Prime Minister of Mozambique, Joaquin Chissano, who gave his impressions on the process so far.
What were the general impressions of the International Committee of the Wise* in relation to the elections?
We are continuing with our contacts with the institutions in support of democracy in the DRC.
The electoral process had three main phases- the campaign, the elections themselves, and now the counting phase and assessment of the results. For the first phase, the Committee did not participate in all of it, as we arrived here at the end of the campaign. But from the reports we have, the campaign was peaceful enough, there were a number of incidents, but very few for the size of the country and the population.
It was regrettable because there were some deaths, but compared to what people would have expected for this election, at a time when there is a still a lot of arms in the country, after many years of war and only three years of peace, people were concerned, but overall it was a very good campaign.
The second phase- the elections- went well, because the turnout was very good, and there was a big enthusiasm among the Congolese people. They recognized the value of the vote, and they recognised this as their right, but they also wanted to participate in choosing their leaders.
I was very happy to notice these things on that occasion. When the counting phase started, this gave rise to a lot of speculation, and this speculation is misleading some of the population, who have no prior experience of an election process.
But I’m glad that the speculations and concerns are being made in a peaceful way. My appeal is that this should continue to be so, they should recognise the existing institutions and use them to the maximum.
In addition, the goodwill mission of the International Committee of the Wise should be made use of, and all recourse to violence or street actions which may disturb the lives of the people should be avoided.
I hope that this is now time to start thinking about real reconciliation and confidence building, because Congo needs a lot of tranquility to rebuild itself, as there is a lot of poverty and a lot of social problems in this country. Have you spoken to the main presidential candidates since the elections?
We have spoken with a number of candidates, in the first leg of our mission. This time we will continue, our plan is to talk to as many people as possible, time permitting. We will speak to all the presidential candidates, but also with the institutions themselves. We had good discussions with the religious organizations, with whom we found a good cooperation.
We will have to have repeat meetings with some of the people whom we saw before, and our aim is to help them to overcome their difficulties, and to create conditions, if necessary, for very constructive dialogue, and we are also continuing with our contacts with the institutions in support of democracy in the DRC.
*The Committee structure is composed, in addition to Mr.Chissano, of the ex-prime minister of Benin, Nicéphore Soglo, the former Senegalese Prime Minister Madior Boye, and the president of the Independent Electoral Commission of Tanzania, Judge Lewis Makame, also judge at the Tanzanian Court of Appeal.