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I just got a brief post-game analysis of the Equateur elections from two separate MLC officials who are usually pretty reliable. They put their failure down to three reasons:

1. The MLC picked a poor candidate – Jean-Lucien is not very popular or charismatic, but he was Jean-Pierre Bemba’s choice.

2. There was some pretty serious bribes being passed around (« des enveloppes ont circulé, » as they say), allegation of $6,000 per provincial MP. This is not extraordinary – in the 2007 gubernatorial elections there were reliable reports of bribes going up to $10,000 per MP. In addition, Baende was the acting governor before the elections. The provincial MPs hadn’t been paid in several months, and Baende reportedly made the strange decision to give the territorial retrocessions (tax money comes from the territories to the province and then to Kinshasa, from where a small part is retroceded back to the province and territories) to the MPs from the respective territories, knowing full well that they would embezzle the money. « They had a vested interest in getting Baende elected, » I was told, « as they had embezzled funds together, if somebody else had been elected this may have been investigated. » In addition, there is a report that will be published by the Senate soon alleging that Baende embezzled some of the FC 120 million (around $150,000) given to the province to renovate its health facilities.

3. The MLC, which only has 35 of the 108 seats (their allies have another 20-25), was divided because several MLC candidates ran.

They also indicated that « the boss » – JP Bemba – has been a bit worried since he received information that up to four MLC officers involved in the operations in the Central African Republic and a Belgian businessman have apparently agreed to testify against him next year during the trial. A suivre….

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