Wednesday, 18 May 2016

2016 DRC election: Matter of how to avoid an overstayed Joseph Kabila

2016 DRC election: Matter of how to avoid an overstayed Joseph Kabila

The president of the DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, right,
 welcomes the US secretary of state, John Kerry,
 to Kinshasa.

In the case of DRC, Political statements such as support of electoral process, sanctions and suspension of international aids are not enough to put pressure and to stop Joseph Kabila’s clinging on power as these strategies are mainly designed to reinforce the peace process rather than regime change. In fact these soft diplomatic languages would  therefore indirectly endorse the continuation of the Joseph Kabila's regime. Noting that, in the past and present time, authoritarian regimes under international sanctions such as Saddam Hussein, Kaddafi, Mugabe, Nkurunziza’s regime persisted to stay in power and ruled by any means.

In the Great Lake region, the International Community, including  UN, US, EU, AU, UK and China, uses the myopic approach to look aside Human rights violations in Rwanda, Uganda and Republic of Congo, and indirectly accept Paul Kagame’s change of constitution; Dennis Sassou Nguesso’s change of constitution and election masquerade and Yoweri Museveni’s controversial victory in 2016 election. Previously in 2011, the international community and other Congolese elites failed to act in support of democracy in DRC when Joseph Kabila removed the second round of the presidential election and won the a fraudulent election.

Following the above It is arguable to admit that Kabila's future, and the future of congolese democracy and freedom lies in the hands of local elites and the protesters who have to brave barrages of bullets to assert their rights as the 2011 election fiasco was earlier recognized by the Carter Center who later endorsed the Kabila fraud by stating that "this assessment does not propose the final order of candidates is necessarily different than announced by CENI, only that the results process is not credible". These approach alter the democratic progress in Africa and the world.

Furthermore, as the international community does not truly condemn Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni and Denis Sassou Nguesso’s behaviour and indirectly endorse these authoritarian regimes -for instance by praising the Rwandan model of economic growth achievement based on a single leadership and ignoring the regime lack of democratic governance, also noting that there are 27 countries in Africa ruled by an authoritarian regime or nominal democracy- the democracy in Africa is at risk or never existed. Leaders would not follow a democratic transfer of power as the international community and African elites failed to support it.

It is obvious that these statements pass unheard and would enhance the process of overstaying regime -such as the Joseph Kabila's regime- as they are means by which the international community can be seen to be taking action, without really taking action at all. In fact, many would prefer "Business As Usually" to sustain, especially in DRC, the policy of a failed state by formatting rebellions to easily access, control and loot mineral and natural resources including oil.

Considering the constitutional crisis in Burundi, which affects the region and ends to a civil war with the risk of new genocide, and the political chaos in DRC as Joseph Kabila delays the elections process required by the constitution using the tactic often called “glissement” or slippage. Concerning also the US and UK who are the primary development partner of DRC, certain facts should not be set aside and should be taken into consideration to avoid a major regional chaos such as:
  • The UK stands to support the electoral process in DRC by considering to provide USD 17 million. Technically the clock is running out on the possibility of a free and fair elections, the suggestion would be for the UK -noting its willingness to support the electoral process- to do not support the tactics of "glissement" by financing something which is likely not to happen or a transitional government,  issued from the Kabila’s regime including the G7, beyond 2016. The UK fund will probably be used to crack down opponents and the approach will not enable the electoral process to take place as it is clear that Joseph Kabila will not organised the 2016 elections. 
  • A contribution of sustained pressure to the Kabila’s regime, a serious attention to the crisis, and a true support to the Congolese population from the UN,US, EU,UK, AU and international community to enable a peaceful and democratic transfer of power rather than the support of the "inclusive national and political dialogue", which is imposed by Joseph Kabila and strongly supported by the UN, with the purpose of allowing Joseph Kabila to stay in power after 2016 as he is deliberately delaying the polls, and later stated that the logistical and budgetary problem will prevent the holding of the vote. His allies therefore alter the context of Article 70 of the constitution, which states that the president  remains in office until the installation of the new elected president, and advance that the article allows Kabila to stay in power. 
  • Given that DRC is a vast, rich area, the most strategic nation that receives international attention, and the growth of offshore banking that helps the self-enriched regime to cover the tracks of their stolen resource, as this practice is highlighted in the Panama Papers; donors aids and the regime's stolen fund are not coordinated to avoid proliferation and worsening of armed conflicts with other countries, human right abuses against opponents and the organisation of fraudulent elections. In fact, targeted Sanctions against the “Joseph Kabila’s” government to hold accountable individuals who are threatening the peace and security of DRC, and undermining its democracy by using repression against opponents and shrinking the political space for Joseph Kabila to remain in power after 2016 -proposed by the US Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and the ones UK and EU do not rule out the possibility of imposing them in the future - are hard to enforce and would be ineffective in DRC. Thus, the poorest and most vulnerable Congolese population would unfairly affect from the sanctions rather than the self-enriched regime. Unless, there is a good political will, and a highest degree of policy and program coordination within the international community in the matter of policy implementation and monitoring these sanctions; so words would be turn into concrete policy to finally acquire a regime change.
  • In case of “glissement" and to avoid further failurethe UN (MONUSCO) -supporting the political dialogue- or AU peacekeeping forces should stop being an observer of the political and security developments in Congo; have a specific political and military international mandate based on the evolving situation that includes a regulatory role of maintaining the constitution and the institutions' democratization; not allow the "glissement"; should countervail its center of gravity between Kinshasa and the East of Congo as the regime behavior directly affects the eastern problematic; and consider Joseph Kabila as "an enemy of democracy and peace". In addition, the UN and AU should provide an appropriate assistance to the oppressed Congolese population to achieve if possible a dramatic or immediate change of regime, and set in the aftermath democratic elections. This can only be done if UN considers and understands the battle for Congo's future rather than to keep condemning the regime through published reports
Noting that the problematic of state building in Congo land lasts 132 years, the fate of Congo was sealed since 1884 during the Berlin Conference as a land to be exploited with impunity gap starting with the ownership regime of the butcher King Leopold II, rulership of the Belgium colonizer, the dictatorship of Mobutu, adventurism regime of Joseph Desire Kabila and the present regime, called "rebelship", of Joseph KabilaCongo deserves, in this crucial time, the full and true support of the international community to build a nation-state with Westphalian sovereignty rather than a "supermarket of mineral and natural resources without sentinel".

With the spirit of Obama’s statement, which should be taken as reference by everyone, that is "Africa will be built not on strong men but strong institutions", and the four pillars that serve as the foundation of U.S. policy toward Africa which are strengthening democratic institutions, supporting African economic growth and development, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development; it is better to apply these policies to enable a real regime change and true democratization expected by Congolese rather than to endure an overstayed Joseph Kabila. Otherwise this would sustain, for instance under sanctions, the crisis for the interests of others and the sufferance continuation of Congolese.

By Ishiaba Kasonga