The electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has often seen tense, polemic and violent contestation and confrontation, particularly since the 2006 elections transitioned the country from war-torn and strife-ridden to a fragile and somewhat stable democracy. As the DRC prepares for turbulent national elections later this year or more likely in 2017; stakeholders at all levels are challenged to conceive of systematic and constructive ways to respond to electoral problems and crises.

Made possible by the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, The McCain Institute and its local implementing partners decided to play the role of a neutral convener by bringing together 80 North Kivu provincial leaders to participate in a series of election scenario planning sessions. The main objective of this initiative is to construct a new way of understanding the political, economic and social challenges free of the usual political, social or ethnic divisions.

The electoral scenario planning is being conducted over the course of four months and eight different workshops where the participants work on identifying the key uncertainties and based on those findings, develop different scenarios that could occur. The following four main themes were selected by the group: 1) Electoral Campaign, 2) Electoral Administration and Logistics, 3) Security and Human Rights and 4) Inclusion (of women, people living with a handicap, youth, etc.). The program participants will develop a set of realistic recommendations for the key electoral stakeholders and decision makers.

This program was designed in coordination with the National Democratic Institute, which is conducting simultaneous programs in the provinces of Bas Congo and Haute Katanga.

Participants represent the national government, provincial government, political parties (majority and opposition), the election commission, civil society groups, religious groups, police, army and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission. While these groups often interact with each other, it is usually confrontational and on uneven ground. The McCain Institute initiated this program so these groups could meet in a neutral and non-threatening environment to discuss some of the most controversial issues currently facing Congo. The program is also designed to build trust among individuals when real-life conflicts arise.