Thursday, May 25, 2006

Congo Election Update

The Salon has been pretty silent recently. One reason was that your humble servant was/is extremely busy these days, and is still working out a schedule to be able to maintain keep The Salon going. The other, is that I have been having a hard time getting a handle on the current situation in Kinshasa. There has been a lot of scheming recently, and seemingly random occurences that have made me constantly fear that there was a bigger scheme at play, and not being able to grasp that bigger scheme is rather unsettling.

First came the squirmishes, in Kinshasa, between the armed security corps of Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba, and elements of the Republican Guard, in charge of Presidential security. Keep in mind that according to the Peace Accords that started all this shebang, the security of all institutions had to be entrusted to an integrated force; something that never happened, prompting the Defense minister Adolphe Onosumba - a former RCD rebel - to issue a ridiculously unrealistic edict, enjoining all politicians to limit their security to 25 men. I mean that has got to be one of the most politically motivated useless edicts there was in the History of the country. Everybody knows that the top 3 people maintain virtual private armies, and that changing that would take an act of G... no maybe just an act of the US, but that is another debate.

Second, the increasingly activist Media watchdog (HAM in french), which decided to suspend some political TV shows, under the claim that they were using hate rhetoric. That has got to be the most hypocritical decision, for the simple reason that it is nothing new, and the HAM has been around since 2003. Why didn't they intervene then? What other motives do these decisions hide?

That's not all. Yesterday, the "Homeland Security" (we say Interior) Minister Theophile Mbemba dropped this bombshell on us:

monuc.org: 32 'Mercenaries' Arrested in Kinshasa ::: 24/05/2006: "Security agents in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), arrested 32 foreigners on Tuesday for plotting a coup against the government of Joseph Kabila, Interior Minister Theophilus Mbemba said.

'They came from Iraq, where they had worked as soldiers,' Mbemba said on Wednesday from Kinshasa. The 12 South Africans, 10 Nigerians and three Americans - all of whom the government described as mercenaries - were working in Kinshasa for a private security company called Omega. Mbemba said the men were caught with military equipment but would not specify the nature or number of the equipment that was seized because the case is still under investigation.

Some of those arrested were without passports. The South African ambassador to the DRC, Sisa Ngombane, said 19 of the men held South African passports, which needed checking. 'We would rather send passport details to our security services for verification of the holders' South African nationality,' he said."
Now the government has since toned down the "coup plot" rhetoric, this still has deeper implications in the electoral process. See the 32 Foreign men were in the service of wealthy US-based Doctor Oscar Kashala, who is a self-made man, and a presidential candidate. Apparently the men were hired by a Florida based consulting firm, and its South African partner in Congo, Omega Security (which is somewhat of a branch/subdivision of this other Florida-based company), for Kashala's security. And now Mr Kashala - who has consequently the smallest security/armed force of all the main candidates - is being interviewed by the Intelligence Services, and by the police over this affair. Go figure...

But that is still not all. Then came, this:
monuc.org: DRC opposition leaders under house arrest, election date disputed ::: 25/05/2006: "KINSHASA, May 24, 2006 (AFP) - Around 10 opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including four presidential candidates, were kept under house arrest for a few hours on Tuesday night, their associates said.

The detainees included four men who are standing in the presidential election scheduled for July 30: Roger Lumbala, Anatole Matusila, Joseph Olenghankoy and
Christophe Mboso Nkodia Mpwanga.

The men were released on Wednesday morning, with no reason for their brief arrests having been given.

Later on Wednesday, Olenghankoy's party, the FONUS, joined with Etienne Tshisekedi's UDPS group -- which is boycotting the polls -- in leading a demonstration to protest against the election date.

They complain that it comes one month after June 30, the official end of a three-year transitional period established when several years of war ended in 2003 -- and therefore one month after the transitional government's mandate expires."
So many tribulations around these elections, and mostly by people that are partially and/or totally responsible for the current mess. The paradoxes of my country will always boggle my mind. But the fact of the matter seems aside from us, the common people, everybody seems to want either a status quo, or a renewed chaos. At least all leaders seem in a position to benefit from either, or. Very few leaders are actually guaranteed some benefits, some dividends I should say, should the electoral process actually come to fruition. With chaos, they can pick a camp, and loot. With the status quo, they can scheme, bicker, negotiate... and loot! So do we really think this bunch - leadership and opposition - really have an intention to deliver free and fair elections? Expecially when it seems like the International Community is turning an increasingly blind eye to irregularities, and is acting less and less impartially?

I wonder... I seriously do.

3 comments:

exMI said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
exMI said...

And here in the USA people get excited about "hanging chads". They have no idea how good we have it.

Lorraine said...

And let's not forget that Valentine Mubake, the president of the National Committee for UDPS as well as his family were also placed under house arrest. Who knows the logic behind that decision?

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