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 TAGS: PGOV KDEM CG SUBJECT: DRC NEARS AGREEMENT ON ELECTORAL SYSTEM
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. MEECE