The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Congo – Heading for the Rapids

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on October 20, 2018 14:14

0 user

A decade ago the Democratic Republic of the Congo emerged from a civil war that threatened to tear this vast and rich country apart. Democracy was proposed as a solution for stability, but the prospects of a really democratic Presidential election seems more and more remote. This may again open cracks in the foundations of the state.

The Congo, richest country in the world in terms of resources, among the poorest in income, is heading for Presidential elections. Once again the creaking of the structures of State alarm bystanders.

Peace on the river


This vast country, with its enormous potential for mineral wealth, agricultural development, and energy, was once the private possession of the King of Belgium. Unspeakable atrocities were committed then and since, theft occurred on a scale that defies description. The second Congolese War was the result of the collapse of systems of governance under Field Marshal Mobuto Sese Seko, and the ineptness of his successor, Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Neighboring countries flocked like vultures, and for a while it seemed certain that the Equator, the Kivu provinces and the Katanga region would all break away.

5.4 million victims later, a Government of Transition under United Nations supervision prepared the way for elections and a Democatic State. Joseph Kabila was confirmed in the Presidency. Now the next round of elections in the post-transition era are on us. And it does not look good.

Remote village. Can electronic voting work?


President Kabila was due to step down in 2016 at the end of his second mandate, but one thing after the other justified delays, and fears were that he would seek a third, unconstitutional mandate. In August he announced under pressure that this would not happen. Instead he nominated a close ally, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, subject of EU sanctions for human rights abuses, to represent the ruling coalition at the polls. 

President Joseph Kabila. Reuters

Since then Jean-Pierre Bemba, former warlord of the Equateur, and freshly released from the International Court, was disqualified from the electoral race, as was Moise Katumbi, previous Governor of Katanga and popular regional strongman. Marie-Josee Ifoku, the only female candidate in the Presidential race, was prevented from travelling to neighboring Brazzaville. 

Jean-Pierre Bemba Thys/AFP


International and regional offers to finance and assist were rejected. Regional concerns regarding inadequate funding to the Electoral Commission, inadequate preparation and training, all went unanswered.

Moïse Kaumbi Ndegeya/Nation

A new, sophisticated electronic voting system will be used: 108 containers of electronic voting machines are at sea, on their way from South Korea. Solar panels are expected soon, and vehicles to distribute voting material through the forests and savannas are expected this weekend. Critics point out that a paperless system in the undeveloped fringes of the Congo, might lack credibility.

Journalists were allegedly ‘abducted’. Civic structures are being degraded. Opposition voices are silenced by heavy-handed measures. Strong regional leaders are prevented from participating in the democratic system. Governance in the far eastern provinces are disappearing under the weight of armed rebels, corrupt police and military and cross-border criminal and political interests.

Storm clouds over the Congo


The storm clouds are gathering. The future is uncertain.

 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on October 20, 2018 14:14

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

Duas das águas minerais mais premiadas do mundo – a de Caxambu e a de Cambuquira, em Minas Gerais – foram entregues pelo...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest