Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hello 2006!!!!! - DR Congo and Africa

And once again (it is getting a bit old), we have gone through a new Saint Sylvester Day, and leaped in one night from 2005 to the brand new 2006. This blogger was in a bit of a mess, between the funeral of a great aunt, dealing with the - extremely ecclectic - Congolese community here in New York, and trying to enjoy the Holiday season. While I was gone, many things have occured in this blue sphere of ours.

DR Congo: Things are shakin'up!

First of all (I am Congolese after all), in Congo, several events have occured concerning the referendum that I have been "reporting" on. The final and official results are still not published by the Supreme Court, which does have some claims of fraud, particularly the big one presented by the "Rally for the No" (RPN), a circumstancial alliance of all the policians that campaigned for the "No" vote. Alongside their claims, they filed suits against several (8) government leaders for fraud, including... President Joseph Kabila. In what may be a setback for democracy, the leader of the RPN, Rev. Theodore Ngoy, JD (yes he is an "evangelical" pastor and a lawyer) was arrested, arraigned, and is being detained at the infamous Makala Prison, now renamed Kinshasa Penitentiary and Reeducation Center (CPRK). It is utterly unclear why he was arrested, although it seems to be related to some misuse if legal procedures, particularly when he sued members of government. As much as it sounds to me like an excuse, it is true that according to the constitution, only the Parliament can sue the President, or any member of the government. I feel for Rev. Ngoy, because he is just trying to stand for what he believes in, and should not be put in jail for that. But his case has the merit to be a test for the maturity of the Congolese legal system. Let us wait and see on that... In the mean time, and this must be a miracle, the sempiternal radical opposition leader, the very honourable Etienne Tshisekedi, finally decided to join the electoral process!!! In a national address, Tshisekedi - who has been doing these addresses since the 90's, when he first claimed to be the only legal Prime Minister of the country - stated that his party would lead the people to victory in the upcoming elections. In other words, he is ending his boycott. It was about time!!! Now I hope the people in power will actually seize this chance, to inclue hum effectively in the process. This year will be historic!!! By the way, Happy Martyrs Day for all Congolese people.


Now on the whole continent, it has pretty much been business as usual. The people in Ivory Coast still find ways to botch-up their situation. After the newly appointed Prime Minister, Charles Konan Banny - who up to then was the Governor of the West African Central Bank, finally and paimfully formed his government team, some armed group decided to launch an attack against the two main military barracks in Abidjan. As if the situation there needed any more escalation. In Central Africa, the situation between Chad and Sudan continues to escalate. As you know, due to some squirmishes that no independant source seems to know the truth about, Chad declared itself in a "state of war" with Sudan. And today, Chadian President Idriss Deby is hosting an emergency meeting of Heads of States of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) to try to gain their support in this situation. Not very uplifting... Let us look at the good things that happened in Africa. In Tanzania, there was a President, Benjamin Mkapa, who actually left power after his constitutional term limitations, to be replaced by democratically elected Jakaya Kikwete (from the same party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi). In Benin, the incumbent, the chameleon Mathieu Kerekou, did not ammend the constitution to run again. It is sad that these have to be pointed out: that's because it is not that common! We can just look at how Museveni is holding onto power in Uganda, Lansana Conte in Guinea, Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso, etc. At least Africans can be proud to have their first woman head of state, with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. They can also pride themselves, and be proud of the UN, on a job reasonably well done in Sierra Leone, with the end of the UNAMSIL mission in that formerly war torn country. There are also the eternal examples of success, like Mali, a harbour of peace and African style democracy, with a leader that runs the country with an artful combination of party politics, and consensual attitude (the current President does not belong to any political party). Mali is a pride, and a model for Africa. But one must also take into account that Mali has very few natural resources, aside from cotton, and a bit of gold. Their great wealth is their culture and history, and the tourism it generates. This may explain why they have been able to develop a democracy: No outside force was there to derail it, because they had no interests there. Countries like the 2 Congos, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Angola have definitely been victims of their natural wealth. Regardless, Mali recently succeded a feat, by organizing the Africa-France Summit, where Africa's youth was able to speak truth to power, telling the leaders that if nothing was done for them, they might be forced to take matters in their own hands. On a final note, there is very interesting book in french, by Christian d’Alayer, titled "A Media crime against Africa : Are all Africans failiures" (my translation), which is simply a must read... a true eye opener on the Western media (conscious and/or unconscious) agenda in Africa.

That was Congo and Africa in the trasition between 2005 and 2006. I will write about the rest of the world tomorrow. In the mean time, people should watch "Inside Africa" more, on CNN International, and lobby for shows on Africa to be more than half-an-hour long!


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