Sunday, February 19, 2006

DR Congo Constitution Approved

As announced by the BBC here, DR Congo's constitution, for which there was a referendum this past December, has been approved. (This reported by Arnaud Zajtman, a long-time resident and reporter in DR Congo, and of whom it was observed one night at dinner at Chateau Margau, 'He looks like Simon and Garfunkel. Combined.')

What I did not realize is that a new flag would accompany instating the new document. Unlike Rwanda, who, when it chose a new flag, eliminated red due to the association with blood from the war and genocide, the new Congolese flag has added red, as can be seen here in a photo from the BBC article:



The blue is to symbolize peace, and the red, in this case, is to commemorate the estimated 4 million Congolese who have lost their lives due to the years of conflict.

The new Constitution is not expected to go into full effect until after the presidential elections in June. Municipal elections begin in April, and the end of June is the mandated deadline for the extension of the original deadline that would see elections as the end of the Transition Period that has lasted since 2003.

However, one important point will be in effect: The minimum age to run for President has been lowered to 30, so that 33-year old Joseph Kabila, who has served as President during the transition and is the son of the assassinated previous president, Laurent Desire Kabila. Though "Kabila Father"'s term was cut short, Mobutu Sese Seko was in power for over 30 years. Thus, the new Constitution calls for a limit of 2 five-year terms.

I have posted previously on related issues, and have received questions/critique in the line of, "Don't you think that other issues are more important to address to create order and stability in DR Congo?"

Yes there are other issues, but perhaps none so important as this. Although the process is funded and overseen by outside constituents (i.e., the European Union, the Independent Electoral Commission, the Department for International Development (DfID-UK)), it is still an important step for Congolese. The electoral process would not take place without the funding provided by myriad sources, and represents two serious events in one:

-- The first free elections in over 40 years; before 40 years ago, there were few elections at all, because DR Congo was a Belgian colony prior to 1960.

-- The first legitimate elections, after which its leaders will be held accountable by said constituents; this accountability will go a long way toward establishing stability and upholding the rule of law, not to mention inspiring confidence of investors who will hopefully contribute to a much-needed economic upswing.


x-posted to Adventures of a Retired Armchair Traveler

8 comments:

Black River Eagle said...

You forgot to mention that the Yellow in the new national flag represents the rich natural resources of the D.R.C.

They should have included the colors Black or Brown for the people and Green for the vast forests and wildflife, the true natural resources of the country.

I like this photo of the woman joyously and proudly waving the new flag(s). She's kinda cute too. You think she's married?

TheMalau said...

I don't thonk she is... I know she is, and her hubby is not someone you want to mess with, haha.

Black River Eagle said...

What!! Who is her Hubby? Bring him on. I'll fight for her if necessary even though I'm gettin' a little old for that kind of carrying on.

Maybe it would be better to look for a nice Congolese woman who is "unattached" and uncomplicated?

TheMalau said...

It may be a better idea :)
Her hubby is one of Kabila's senior staff-members, haha!

Black River Eagle said...

Unrelated but important:

Have you seen the latest post over at Lu Blog du Congolais (Feb. 25) re: a long awaited report on mining contracts signed during the Congo Wars period? Here is a link to the post and I would sure like to find an English language copy of the report online if available. Hat Tip goes to Global Voices Online for the lead.

http://congomania.afrikblog.com/archives/2006/02/23/1416014.html

Black River Eagle said...

Hi again Ali. I found the official DRC government report referenced at Lu Blog du Congolais about the illegal mining contracts and (alleged) natural resource exploitation that occured during the Congo Wars period of 1996-2003. It is named the Lutundula Commission Report and Human Rights Watch has a Feb. 21st press release about it:
http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/02/20/congo12692.htm

There is also a link provided to the official Lutundula Commission website but it seems only preliminary material is available online for now. No English. Non comprendez Amigo. Je ne sais what?

TheMalau said...

Give me a day, so I can finish reading the report. I will post on it then.

anthony katombe said...

hello,
you guy are doing a great job ! one has the impression when reading what you write about the country that you live in congo ! i'm really impressed and i encourage you to go ahead. people over there need what happens over here to be told to them in their language so that they understand and feel concerned and get involved.
i've also appreciated your visit at the "blog du congolais" : http ://congomania.afrikblog.com and i'd like to thank you for your encouragement.
stay in peace, brother, and one more time, go ahead !
tony katombe

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