Thursday, January 19, 2006

DR Congo: 2 steps forward, x steps back... find x

I have not been blogging for a little while on Congo for a little while, for 2 reasons. The first is that I have been looking into ways for me to have a blog on Congo in French, as I am increasingly realizing that if I need to blog in English on Congo, to let the Western World know about the issues there, I also need to blog in French, to be read and understood in Congo, and maybe influence things there too... all this without rendering me unable to have a normal social and professional life, and that, is a bit of a conandrum. I am still working on that...

The second reason, is that I have been doing a bit of forum commenting, at Congo 2000 Forums, and it has simply been blowing my mind, and given me some new perspectives, and unfortunately also some new fears. I will blog about those later.

In the mean time, there has been a lot of movement in Congo. First the United Nations has officially asked the EU to send a military mission to secure the elections. The EU commission has been examining the situation, and should render its decision soon. Speaking of the United Nations, there is a rather funny incident that has occured recently; a shipment of Belgian weapons, and military vehicles have been intercepted in Equatorial Guinea, in a shady error that is still under investigation. The material was destined to... the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC)!! The information was highlighted in the weekly press briefing of the MONUC, this Wednesday. While illegal weapons roam freely on the continent, the country of Teodoro Obiang Nguema seems to favour stopping the legal ones...

In other news, the political situation seems to be in utter confusion in Kinshasa. Between the pressures to reopen voter registration booths for Tshisekedi's UDPS party, the heated debates on the eletoral law in Parliament, the persistent instability in Northern Katanga, and the successive holidays celebrating martyred "National heroes" Patrice Lumumba and Laurent Kabila... there just seems to be not much done. In a surprising move, one of the political parties that has a seat on both the Electoral Commission, and the Media Authority, has offered both its seats the UDPS, to try to alleviate the crisis. KNowing Congolese politicians, I for ne wonder what hidden interests prompted such a move. The most controversial issue for the electoral bill in Parliement seems to have been resolved, as the MPs seem to have decided to go with open electoral lists, as opposed to blocked ballots which would give the big political parties way too much power on the political arena.

In the mean time, the head of the Catholic Church did come out to remind all people that it did not have any favourites in the election; a move that was very much needed, when we know that the Head of the Catholic laymen is running for President. Speaking of this candidate, Dr Matusila, it seems that he may have been poisonned just before he was about to declare his candidacy, at YMCA plaza, in Kinshasa... A story to lookout for. The YMCA plaza is the place where the demonstrations claiming the independance of the Congo started, on January 4th, 1959.

I voluntarily impressed a fairly disembodied feel to this post, as that is exactly how the situation in Congo's political arena feels. There is a crucial need for some order, and some reassurance down there. It seems like futilities seem to rule the day, and for every step forward, as there has been with the referendum, and the upcoming elections, there is at least a step backward, with petty personnal issues of the strong and powerul dominating the arena, at the expense of core necessities for the future of the country. If that is true, then we have not made a change from Mobutu's time... or even from colonialism.

But enough negativism. Someone has brought to my attention the MONUC sponsored Action Plan for the DRC 2006, which is supposed to be the basis for development in the long-term. It comes with everything, even a promotional video that I urge all to see (you need Quicktime).



Sj said...

It was just so interesting though that one of the changes listed to the constitution was the lowing of the age needed to be president. Not of course that it is going to help anyone in particular ahem...

Well ok, I don't know that I can read into it that much. When the current president is younger than the limit I suppose to keep it legal one must lower the age..(sort of like lowering the # of seats needed to be an official party in Canada so that the NDP can remain official)

I'm supposed to go there for the first time in January/Feb of 2007.. I am looking carefully to see how things go this next year for sure. Thank you for the post and for future ones too.

Sj said...

Sorry, to be more specific..going to Kinshasa.

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