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In 2011 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held its second competitive presidential and legislative elections since it gained its independence in 1960. While it was expected that these elections would reflect a significant improvement over those in 2006, they were marred by such grave irregularities that the outcome was described by most election observer missions as lacking credibility. This article draws on the reports of election observer missions, statements from key stakeholders and media reports in order to discern the most salient dynamics of electoral misconduct in the DRC in 2011. Given the nature and degree of electoral fraud, the article argues that the election debacle was not the result of technical and accidental factors but was the product of a systematic and state-sponsored design to rig the elections in favour of the incumbent president and members of Parliament from his political camp. In order to quell popular protest against stolen elections the incumbent used illegitimate and excessive violence aimed at terrorising the people and forcing actual and potential protesters into submission. This analysis suggests that the democratic project in the Congo has experienced a dramatic reversal. In order to safeguard the democratisation process it is crucial that national and international stakeholders tackle the foundations of this type of electoral authoritarianism.