Nanamie Bitendanwa, DRC "Now is the time that we can ensure a better future for our country"

One of the voters in Sunday's historic elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo was Nanamie Bitendanwa, 30. While waiting with her 10-year-old daughter outside one of the five polling stations at the Tumaini Institute in Bukavu's Ibanda Commune, South Kivu Province, she expressed delight at the unique opportunity to help determine the political future of her country.

Bitendanwa, who did not want to be fully identified, and her daughter had survived the massacres by militiamen and rebels in Bukavu between 1998 and 2002. She fled to a village north of the town and only recently returned to take part in the electoral process.

"I returned to Bukavu the day before the start of voter registration. I made a point, this time, to take part in this historical and decisive moment in Congo's future.

"This morning [Sunday], I was among the first people to arrive at the polling station because I made a point of expressing myself freely and chose a man who would manage the country responsibly.

"We have been mistreated in the past because the leaders who imposed themselves on us had headed rebellions and now headed the country. But, I think that the officials who will emerge from the elections will be more responsible and accountable to the nation.

"The international community did nothing to abide by the will of the Congolese people who wanted to end irresponsible management of the country, underhand dealings and the corruption which had become endemic.

"When the Congolese in the east express a great passion for these elections, other compatriots are astonished but we suffered so much.

"Now is the time that we can ensure a better future for our country and future generations. The vote of each one is subjective; but it is useful," she said.

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