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2005-12-23 10:18:00
Embassy Kinshasa
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Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  CG 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 002088 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2015

Classified By: PolOff CBrown, reasons 1.4 b/d.

1. (C) After extensive consultations, Congolese political
leaders seem to be arriving at a tentative agreement on the
DRC's draft electoral law, which will lay out the framework
for the size of electoral districts and the type of voting
system (i.e., majority or proportional) to be implemented for
national and provincial elections in 2006. According to this
concept, the DRC will have a mix of systems depending on the
size of the district. This plan closely mirrors one of the
original proposals presented to the Congolese by
international electoral experts.

2. (C) As envisioned, the mixed system would result in de
facto "first past the post" elections for the smallest
districts in which only one person would be elected. In
larger districts, the election would be on a proportional
basis and would include "semi-open" (or "semi-closed") voting
lists, likely about a third of voting districts. This system
would allow voters to vote either directly for a candidate or
for a particular political party.

3. (C) European and other experts had been strongly insisting
on as pure a proportional representational system as
possible, with "blocked" lists prepared by political parties.
This former the basis of the draft law submitted by the
Transition Government to the Parliament. It became clear,
however, that the large majority of Parliamentarians rejected
this formula, arguing that most Congolese think in terms of
individual politicians, not parties. In addition, few
Parliamentarians were willing to cede to party bosses the
authority to prepare and control candidate lists. The
102-member joint Senate/Assembly committee considering the
law produced a radically different concept, based on complete
open lists, and rejected the pure proportionality concept.
The committee proposal, however, would in the judgment of
most create extremely complicated ballots that would probably
be impossible to prepare before June 2006. The compromise
agreement being hammered out seeks to reconcile these
positions in a practical manner.

4. (C) The current draft electoral law adds 100 seats to the
National Assembly (to 500 vice 400). The addition of these
seats is designed to insure proportional representation for
smaller (i.e., minority) parties and groups in the DRC.

5. (C) National Assembly President Olivier Kamitatu has
indicated to the Ambassador and others it would be difficult
to hold a Parliamentary vote on the law before the end of the
year as Parliamentarians have been away from Kinshasa to
campaign for the December 18 constitutional referendum and
for the Christmas holidays. Kamitatu has said in his view,
the law is unlikely to be adopted until early January.

Consequently, this implies the electoral law cannot be
promulgated until late January.

6. (C/NF) The international community has been maintaining
strong pressure on Parliamentary leaders to consider and
adopt the new electoral law quickly. A Mixed Commission on
Key Legislation meeting on Saturday, December 17, was used to
convey that message, as were a variety of individual
contacts. The British, EU, French, Belgian, South African,
and American Ambassadors, and the UN SRSG were also involved
in early consultations with Parliamentary leadership to
arrive at compromise proposals regarding the key electoral
law issues that could obtain Parliamentary approval on a
timely basis.

7. (C) EU Commissioner Louis Michel briefed members of the
International Committee to Accompany the Transition (CIAT) on
December 22 on his efforts during his Kinshasa visit. Michel
reported that he has accepted the "semi-open" list and
"mixed" proportionality formulas, backing away from strong
earlier EU insistence on strict proportionality and "blocked"
lists. He also said he had good meetings with various key
players, and expressed the hope that Parliamentary agreement
could be reach by January 10, but acknowledged that this
would be difficult.

8. (C) Comment: Assuming a sufficient majority of
Parliamentarians can be brought on board, the new proposal,
while somewhat complicated, should provide a politically
acceptable system that can be implemented within the
remaining Transition system. The vision emerging came about
ultimately by moving the discussion from a deadlock at the
level of experts to a political level that accommodates the
political currents of the country. The existing political
parties are poorly organized and in the process of change.
Most Congolese do at this point think in terms of individual
leaders for the most part, and not institutions such as
parties. The compromise proposal provides for these realities
and includes provisions to ensure representation of smaller
but significant parties, while still providing procedures
favoring institutional and political consolidation.

9. (C) Comment continued: Of continuing concern, however, are
the technical difficulties which will be encountered,
especially in designing and printing ballots throughout the
country. Delays in adopting the electoral law can jeopardize
the entire electoral calendar and the June 30 deadline for
ending the DRC's transitional government. The recent
constitutional referendum proved to be an excellent exercise
in democracy, both for voters and elections workers. The
two-day vote exposed certain weaknesses in the existing
system, notably in informing citizens about the voting
process and in providing clear guidelines and procedures for
elections operations. Civic education for the electorate and
better training for voting officials must be priorities for
the Independent Electoral Commission before elections take
place next year. End comment.