Thankfully, our friend Black River Eagle has called my attention to this decently good article, on the run up to the elections, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I recommend the article to any person interested on the Congo, as it does give a very accurate and succint background summary of the events that led to the current situation, and where we go from here.
This gives me an occasion to chime in, more informally than usual, on the recent developments in my good old Kinshasa. Because things have been moving around! Where do I start?
Well the most important first: The Supreme Court has confirmed the results of the referendum on the Constitution, making it possible for the President to sign it into law - we say "promulguer" in french - any day now... and he takes his time! Now, normally that would not be a problem. But see, truth be told, we ain't got a lot of time!!! See, to respect all the constitutional deadlines, and avoid going into an institutionnal vacuum, that may trigger a Third Congo War, all the elections must be completed (electoral campaign included) - for the 11 Provincial parliaments, the National Assembly, The Senate, and the President - before June 30th!
What were people waiting for, you ask? See here is the thing. To organize the elections, you need a Voting Law. TO approve the Voting Law, you need the Constitution to be enacted. So even though the Voting Law has all but been approved by Parliament, they cannot officially approve it until the dear, dear President Kabila decides to sign the Constitution into law... which he will do on February 18th, reported from the 11th, because he wanted to make the ceremony a big deal, inviting fellow African heads of state. That is all fine and dandy, but it makes everything uber-tight, timewise. See, the Constitution will take 2 days to be published in the Official Records. Then the Voting Law will be approved officially, and sent to the President, who has 6 days to have it checked by the Supreme Court to make sure it is constitutional, and then the President signs it into Law, and there you have two more days... And the Electoral commission cannot start its work until after all this is done!!!!! Wow!!!! This means less than 3 months to organize a campaign for 500+ people for Parliament, about 60 people for Presidential elections, Presidential debates, and elections for all the above. If there is a God, he sure loves testing the Congolese, don't you think?
But as usual, I am hopeful. The main source of good news for me, is Radio Okapi, the UN sponsored nationwide radio, that has started to organize 30 minute radio debates, each time between 3 hatpicked representatives of political parties, and this both in Lingala, and in French. People actually have to express their ideas to the people... for the first time in forever!!
As I said, things are moving, things are shaking, and we may yet see a positive outcome out of all this.