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Congo starts to vote

The country's second multiparty election is expected to be chaotic, but won't restart a war.
Congo election 2011 11 28Enlarge
A Congolese man holds a ballot paper burned in an attack on two pick-up trucks carrying ballots to polling stations in Lubumbashi on Nov. 28, 2011. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

Voting began this morning in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a huge and misnamed nation in the middle of Africa.

It is only the second time that Congolese — now numbering around 71 million — have voted in a multiparty election. The last one was in 2006 and was organized and largely bankrolled by the United Nations and other international bodies and governments.

That time around it just about worked, although tensions around the run-off led to armed battles in Kinshasa between forces loyal to President Joseph Kabila and his then challenger, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is not running this time as he’s on trial at the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

This time Congo is doing the election for itself, and in a country that is a byword for chaos, it’s no surprise that the vote is expected to be chaotic. But it’s not going to restart a war that ended in most of the country in 2003 (although it rumbles on in a fragmented way in the east).

More from GlobalPost: Congo goes to polls amid hope and fear

The likelihood is that Congo will muddle through election day, there will be a tense wait for results due next week, a victor will be announced (probably Kabila) and the opposition (led by veteran rabble-rousing politician Etienne Tshisekedi) will cry foul, there will be riots and protests (especially in the capital Kinshasa, Tshisekedi’s stronghold) and an over-the-top security crackdown in which some will be killed.

Then things will get back to normal.


 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/congo-starts-vote