Friday, December 02, 2005

DR Congo: Countdown to the Polls

The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are set to get their first chance in 41 years, to participate in the closest thing to free and fair elections as are possible within the Congolese context. The first step of this process will be made on December 18, with the country-wide referendum on the new Draft Constitution. The anticipation is so extremely dense among all Congolese people, who can grasp the sheer magnitude of this process for the future of the country, is almost physically palpable. Unfortunately, so is the uneasiness of the current political class.

In an article from Congo and Great Lakes newspaper Le Soft International, the veteran Professor Triphon Kin Kiey Mulumba, Journalist and erudite - although sempiternally chameleonic politcally, exposes the latest of the numerous crises and tribulations.

With the elections coming up, Congolese politicians (particularly those that belong to the "all-inclusive" and cohabitational institutions, resulting from the negotiations to end the devastating Congo War in 2002) have had to come to terms with the fact that in purely democratic conditions, they did not have any true basis to claim an elected position: no tangible basis, no constituency, and no real platform. That is if we exclude the long-standing aim of entertaining what in Congo they call alimentary political parties, which essentially consist of the leader and a handful of founding members. These parties are often mini-moneymaking-machines, with the sole aim to provide resources to their leaders' polygastric appetites...

These are definitely not the kind of leadership material that can garter the votes - not legitimately anyway. Consequently, all actors in the transitional institutions, whose positions will be contested in the future elections,have been looking for excuses to extend the transitional period, and maintain their very advantageous benefits. Nevertheless, the very uncharacteristically strong voice of the International Community in recent days have made the prospect of extending the transition very slim.

So the politicians... TERRIFIED!! This thing may actually come to pass!!! What are we going to do?? What will hapen when the people finds out all the money we have been stealing?? In addition with these fears, the politicians have to deal with their inherent disagreements. In the crisis described in the Soft, the troubled party is President Kabila's party, PPRD. At a crucial moment in the country, they finally decided to take a political stand on matter of principles: the murder of the first President Kabila. As part of the new legislation, ageneral amnesty for the War period was mandated by the 2002 agreements. All the other parties wanted this amnesty to include the convicted muderers of President Kabila. Kabila's party held strong for 2 years, then finally decided to stage a walkout in Parliament. The law passed without them, with 90%+ of the votes... needless to say, they are not very happy.

But having been in power - in its present formation - for 4-5 years, the PPRD does have some tangible basis. So do, theoretically, the former rebel groups that occupied the North and East for 5 years, and still maintain much of the control there. The only 2 non-belligerent parties to have any claim to natioanl recognition are the MPR (Mobutu's former state-party, but they are divided), and the sempiternal opposition party, the UDPS of Mr Etienne Tshisekedi. Officially however, the UDPS refused to participate in the polls... but they seem to realize that it would be am IMMENSE mistake, and the surest way to miss the train of history, however impefect.

The situation is almost unprecedented for the political class, with the exception of those Forefathers that are still alive, like Sen. Cleophas Kamitatu Massamba, who is incidentally the father of current National Assembly Speaker Olivier Kamitatu Etsou. Business as usual seems for the first time, not to be the game. The primary sovereign, the people, may actually BE the sovereign. And they may hold them accountable for 41 years of chaos. No more villas, no more limos, no more helicopter rides, or Congo Air Command 1 (that's Congo's Air Force 1, also known as Hewa Bora) rides... and maybe jail!!!! They are SCARED....

Referendum D-Day - 16.

(To be continued)



Denis said...

This all sounds nice and is very exciting. But I can help being pessimistic when I think about the polical conflits of the first few years after independence and what they led to. With more than 200 parties officially registered, it's going to be a mess. Politicians, often incapable or corruptible, have just been shuffled from one position to the other. It seems to still be happening.

Reading the project of the constitution didn't help optimism either. I don't know what to think of the planned 26 provinces. It sounds good for some things. But it also mean more bureaucracy... and that's no good, except for politicians.

The Congo is in deep sh*t, I don't know for how long but it will be for a while if progress doesn't come from the people. I don't understand why some Congolese people are still hoping for a leader or a party to save the country. Even if a good leader or a good party has power, the whole system is corrupt and rotten. It will require a lot of work, starting with every single person.

Black River Eagle said...

Finally some Congolese who are willing to blog about (and comment on) the upcoming 2006 elections in the DRC in the English language. Thanks for the info you have presented here so far, will await the " be continued". Unfortunately I could not decipher the article in LeSoft Online from Professor Mulumba. Any chance that one can find really good and up-to-date news and information written by Congolese online in English? Non? Je ne sais what?

I don't think that the various politicians who makeup the transitional government in the DRC are all that frightened of international pressure. If 2 or more rebel parties decide to plunge the country back into civil war, who's gonna stop them? MONUC?? The AU, EU, NATO?

Of course, let's hope that doesn't happen, again.

TheMalau said...

I will write more about this soon. I understand the touch of cynicism I feel in your comment BRE, and the desillusion in yours, Denis.

The rebels are not afraid of the MONUC et al. They are afraid of what the support of MONUC can make the people do. See, the level of desillusionement in Congo has generated enough anger and frustration among the common people, that it reminds me of Rwanda before the genocide. No one wants to outwardly appear worse than the average badness. So yes, they are scared. Powerful and able to return to their warring ways, yes, but, scared nevertheles.

Black River Eagle said...

Didn't mean to be a pain-in-the-rearend, just trying to provoke you to speakout more via your blog about what is going on (good and bad) down in the D.R.C. Many non-French speakers are desperate to hear more from people who hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo and other Francophone Afrique countries in your own words that we can understand (English, Spanish, German, etc.)

Just to show how much I care here is my (free) Hot Tip of the Day. I found a new DRC blogger today over at the BBC Africa Lives - My Africa (diaries) site. His name is Frank Otete; he is from Kinshasa and studying to be a medical doctor at the University of Lubumbashi. I'm sure that he would be glad to hear from you and other bloggers writing about and interested in the D.R.C.

I'll stop back by later to see what's up but please do stay in touch with us in the Blogosphere.

TheMalau said...

Thank you BRE. I will be here, though not as often as I used to be before - work does take a lot of time. But I will try to have a long post every 2 days at least, on the DRC polls. I will check out that DRC blogger.

Exiledsoul said...

You know what, I completely forgot about those elections. After what I've seen this summer, I'm not even sure if the outcome of this election will be positive. Eh you know my opinion on this... lol I decided to stop talking about the referendum and the elections. Anyway I'm back in the blogsphere I'll start blogging tomorrow. During my hiatus I thought of maybe creating a congolese blogring. I saw Frank Otete's blog a few months ago. There wasn't much then I'll check it out again

Black River Eagle said...

Wow! This is for real! Not only is Ali back but so is L'Exileé! Or is that L'Exileè. I never could get those stupid tick marks right. Hey I can do French, ever since the 4th grade. Not much improvement in my skills since then.

Hope that you enjoyed your trip back home to the D.R.C. this Summer, Ntumba. Welcome back to the Blogosphere ya'all. Golly.

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