Doctor Optimistic about Congo Vote Results for the presidential election held Sunday in the Democratic Republic of Congo -- the first free election in the nation in more than 40 years -- are not expected for several more weeks. Dr. Oscar Kashala, a Harvard-educated Congolese-American, is feeling pretty good about his chances.
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Doctor Optimistic about Congo Vote

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Doctor Optimistic about Congo Vote

Doctor Optimistic about Congo Vote

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This is DAY TO DAY. Coming up: a novelist finds the best stories really close to home. I'm Madeleine Brand.


I'm Alex Chadwick. First, we travel far from home to the African country Congo. There was a presidential election there on Sunday. This is a country with only a few hundred miles of paved roads, so counting ballots takes a while. No official final results expected for weeks.

BRAND: But there are some preliminary returns. The Associated Press quotes a U.N. source saying that the leaders are the current president -Joseph Kabila - and one of the vice presidents, Jean-Pierre Bemba. The report mentions another candidate, Dr. Oscar Kashala, who is doing well in opposition areas.

CHADWICK: Dr. Kashala emigrated from Congo to the U.S. years ago. He's a Harvard-trained physician now, and in an interview with DAY TO DAY back in May, he explained that he'd gone back to the Congo to run for president to see what he could do. And he's joined us again from Kinshasa, in Congo, by phone. Dr. Kashala, welcome back to DAY TO DAY.

Dr. OSCAR KASHALA (Presidential candidate, Congo): Thank you so much, Alex.

CHADWICK: And what kind of reports are you hearing from around the country? How is the vote counting going? I know there've been charges that there may be fraudulent voting.

Dr. KASHALA: When we started hearing about these irregularities, we never felt that there were going to be major problems. But as the counting on the vote continues - and many votes are coming from inside the country as well as from Kinshasa - it seems like that this is a major, major problem of fraudulent votes.

For instance, a woman walking found a paper which was a (unintelligible) vote, which was counted, actually, for me. But she found this piece of paper outside of the office somewhere on the streets.

CHADWICK: She found a ballot?

Dr. KASHALA: She found a ballot, which was in my favor, but on the street. The question is how widespread were they, and will they affect, really, the outcome of this election. That's a question we're trying to answer right now. So…

CHADWICK: The Democratic Republic of Congo - it's a huge country without a lot of infrastructure. It must be very difficult to conduct elections there. So when do you really think that results will be known? And how can you have any faith that the government will accept a real outcome?

Dr. KASHALA: Yeah. I think based on what we're told, within the next two weeks and a half we'll know. Already, you have a number of candidates - actually, a couple of candidates jumping up and down dancing in the streets saying that they've won the election.

This isn't true at all, because the results we've gotten - part of the results is based on 3 percent of the voters. So, it is impossible to even think about a trend based on a so small number of people.

CHADWICK: Dr. Kashala, what are you going to do over the next couple of weeks while you're waiting for this vote count? And does it seem safe for you to have your family there?

Dr. KASHALA: Yeah. My wife, Prudence(ph), is here with me. Our children are in the United States. What I'm going to do, I'm going to travel extensively through the country to go and thank our people who voted for us. Many of them never saw me, they just heard about me because I was prevented by the government from traveling, and because they knocked down all the operations that we had. We had airplanes. They returned them from where they came from. And they had the police on us. And they just did too many negative things, including the last day of voting where they claimed that I was no longer a candidate, asking people to vote for them. Because they said I decided to resign and be a member for one of the parties of one of the candidates.

CHADWICK: You're saying the government…

Dr. KASHALA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CHADWICK: …on the last day of the election…

Dr. KASHALA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CHADWICK: …told voters that you had quit…

Dr. KASHALA: Yeah.

CHADWICK: …and that there was no use voting for you?

Dr. KASHALA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They told the voters that they spent a lot of money and sent people on buses, nightclubs, and bars to say that I was no longer a candidate because I had agreed to sign an agreement with them to be a member of their parties. There are at least a couple of major parties here that have done that.

CHADWICK: Well, Dr. Kashala, we'll follow the vote count there as we can, and maybe we'll have a chance to talk to you again. And good luck to you.

Dr. KASHALA: Thank you so much, Alex. It was nice talking to you.

CHADWICK: Dr. Oscar Kashala - one of the candidates in this week's Congo presidential election - speaking with us from Kinshasa.

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