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Will Congo re-do its flawed elections?

Other options include recounting ballots, nullifying the elections, forming a coalition government, or simply doing nothing. 

By Jason StearnsGuest blogger / January 26, 2012

Supporters of opposition UDPS leader Etienne Tshisekedi gather in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, December 23, 2011.

Jonny Hogg/REUTERS

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Congolese politics, usually full of fire and scandal, seem devoid of hope these days. The presidential and legislative elections were both so badly botched that it is apparently impossible to figure out who won what. And yet, there is little hope of any far-reaching solution. The donors are divided, with the United States "deeply disappointed," the Belgians wanly congratulatory, and the South Africans outright buoyant. In the meantime, the opposition has not been able to mobilize any significant protests, largely because they are arrested/beaten/tear-gassed. While the Catholic church has announced a major demonstration on Feb. 16 - the twenty-year anniversary of the "March of Christians" of 1992 - it is unclear whether kinois, the residents of Kinshasa, still have the capacity to mobilize on a large scale.

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The latest sign of this despondency is an initiative reportedly mooted by Washington in recent days: a power-sharing agreement. According to various sources in the opposition and US government, the proposal that has been put forward in the past several weeks would have the opposition sharing power with President Joseph Kabila, either by forming government under a UDPS prime minister, or by getting a fair share of ministerial positions. The only problem is: neither Etienne Tshisekedi or Mr. Kabila seem to be interested (Vital Kamerhe and Kengo wa Dondo have apparently expressed interest).

It is difficult to see how such a power-sharing deal could be pushed through, given the divisions among the donors and Kabila's opposition (he is having hard enough a time managing the quarrels within his coalition without giving half the cabinet positions to the enemy camp). Nor is it clear whether this would make right the glaring flaws of elections; one could argue the opposite, that it could undermine the creation of a strong opposition and just postpone the troubles for a couple of years - the consensus among many Africans is that neither Kenya nor Zimbabwe have been great successes, and that Cote d'Ivoire managed to dodge a bullet by avoiding a power-sharing deal. 

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