Friday, 27 May 2016

 Confronting the Resource Curse and Civil War in the Congo

Confronting the Resource Curse and Civil War in the Congo


27/05/2016

The depictions of Congolese humanity and pain in When Elephants Fight, a new documentary, make it necessary viewing for Westerners.

A scene from When Elephants Fight.

“The American media can only handle one African conflict per decade.” Those are the words of Omekongo Dibinga, speaking on a panel after a screening of When Elephants Fight, a new documentary from director Mike Ramsdell, narrated by Robin Wright, about the two-decade-old war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dibinga, a Congolese-American activist and academic, was there to help promote the film and raise awareness about the conflict in general, and his characterization of the US press is only slightly hyperbolic. With some notable exceptions, US media have largely overlooked a conflict that has left 5 million dead, in what many analysts say is the deadliest war since World War II. Elephants is an attempt to educate Western audiences—primarily Americans—about the role their governments and consumer habits play in perpetuating the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At the heart of the story, as Elephants lays it out, is a familiar tale of a phenomenon known as the resource curse: A land-rich country, rather than prospering from its own abundance, suffers from outside exploitation, internal corruption, and deprivation for its citizens. In the case of the DRC, minerals, used to power iPhones and other technology, are the prized resource.
In a fairer world, the DRC would be one of the richest countries in the world. In 2011, the United Nations estimated the DRC’s “untapped mineral reserves…to be worth $24 trillion.” Copper, coltan, tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold are all abundant there, and US tech and mining companies have taken advantage of the war to get access to the minerals for next to nothing. There have been efforts to rein in the use of “conflict minerals” in tech production, primarily through the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation. A lawsuit successfully kneecapped one of the bill’s key provisions, though, which would have required companies to label the minerals they used if they came from conflict areas in the DRC.
But not everybody buys into that central conceit of Elephants, or of the Dodd-Frank provisions. In Foreign PolicyLauren Wolfe argues that the ban on using “conflict minerals” is having the unintended consequence of harming Congolese miners and driving their already small profit margin even lower. And, to its detriment, the film doesn’t adequately grapple with this counter-narrative.
Visually, the Elephants is at its most gripping when showing GoPro footage of workers crawling deep into mines that become increasingly claustrophobic. In one scene, a miner falls over in the cramped space and then begins chuckling, an unsettling reminder that even the most dangerous work can become routine. In another fantastic segment, a middleman wears a hidden camera to show how he smuggles minerals from the Congo across the border to Rwanda. Distributors then tag the minerals as having originated in Rwanda. It’s a sign of how the chaos  and lack of regulation in the region make it difficult to track what minerals are coming from where, and whether the profits are funding violent groups.

When Elephants Fight promo


The film only occasionally displays too-familiar images of poor African children set to swelling music, but even their scant presence undermines the film’s otherwise refreshing complexity. Ramsdell, to his credit, still communicates his awareness of the exploitative role he could play as a US filmmaker. Two of the most memorable moments, for instance, depict virtually the same encounter but with different Congolese. “You come here and take our pictures, but we never see the benefit of the work,” one man says, clearly exasperated. “What do we get out of the footage?” asks another. These are good questions to ask, and both the film and an associated activist campaign called #StandWithCongo (complete with smartphone app) attempt to offer some answers. The primary goal of the campaign is to put consumer pressure on companies to pledge to use minerals that are as conflict-free as possible, and the movement has already had some success. In 2014, Apple pledged to stop using minerals that had been sourced from conflict areas in the DRC.
Elephants does a good job of explaining the colonial and postcolonial history of the DRC, including the death of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader whose killing was backed by the CIA and then-President Dwight Eisenhower. The film also discusses the US support of the Rwandan government following the genocide in that country, and how Washington has largely given Rwanda a blank check to intervene in the Congo.
When Confronting the Resource Curse and Civil War in the Congodoes not shy away from naming individuals and companies that profit from the conflict—particularly Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire who has made millions in Congolese mining ventures. Gertler is a close friend of Joseph Kabila, the president of the DRC, and the film details how Gertler and others have used offshore tax havens to hide their profits and mask who exactly owns what mine. In a stunning bit of timing, Gertler is mentioned over 200 times in the leaked Panama Papers, a trove of documents that show how Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca helped financial elites hide their money in offshore tax havens.
The film argues that the current wave of privatization is effectively selling off the DRC’s future for the short-term profit of a small group of government and corporate elites. There was a time, though, when the people of the Congo actually saw some of their country’s wealth. In the late 1960s, the US-supported dictator Mobutu Sese Seko nationalized the mines, which for a time became a great source of pride for many Congolese. The state-run company Gecamines was a symbol of the wealth the state could distribute among its people under the right circumstances, and for a time became a source of pride for the DRC (which was then called Zaire). Mobutu, however, let the infrastructure fall into disrepair and, although the government still owns the company, President Kabila has been selling it off under a shroud of secrecy.
The depictions of Congolese humanity and pain in When Elephants Fight make it necessary viewing for Westerners, not least of all because of the role our consumption habits play in perpetuating the violence in the DRC. Dibinga, the Congolese-American activist and academic, was right when he said Americans are often indifferent to African suffering. Elephants forces audiences to confront that indifference, which is a needed—if insufficient—step towards ending the bloodiest conflict since WWII.

By John Knefel

The nation



The United States should learn from its past blunders in Congo

The United States should learn from its past blunders in Congo

27/05/2016


Officials and human rights groups in Washington are strongly considering imposing targeted sanctions on individuals in Congo in the hopes of averting a political crisis in the country. Though elections are supposed to be held in November, President Joseph Kabila will likely try to extend his term in power beyond his constitutional limit of two terms — by either delaying the elections, or rewriting the constitution altogether. Last year, some 40 people were killed in the capital, Kinshasa, during protests against a draft law that would have potentially extended Kabila’s term. Kabila has not publicly declared whether he will run again.
There is no doubt that the situation in Congo is incredibly tense. Congolese activists fear that the unpopular Kabila will not hesitate to use violence to suppress dissent. The United States is in an understandable position of appearing to do all it can to help prevent Congo from going the way of Burundi, which is still in crisis almost a year after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intentions to run for an unconstitutional third term. But this is now coming after years of inconsistent approaches toward elections and democracy in Congo by the United States.
The U.S. government had a clear opportunity to take a strong stand for Congolese democracy five years ago. In 2011, elections in which Kabila was elected winner were marred by serious irregularities and rigging. The results were decried by Congolese and rights groups. The U.S.-based Carter Center said the results “lacked credibility”, pointing to districts that reported 100 percent of voter turnout. The Catholic Church, which commands a large amount of respect in the country, said the official results did not “conform either to truth or to justice.” Protests broke out, and 24 people were killed in the ensuing government crackdowns.
However, the United States and other countries in the West were at the time largely silent about the problematic elections. It’s true that, not long after the elections, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for areview of the election process. But the Congolese electoral commission refused to cooperate, and by February, the U.S. administration embraced Kabila. Then-Ambassador James Entwistle said, “United States recognizes Joseph Kabila as President of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the next five years.”
As Anthony Gambino, former USAID mission director for Congo, put it back in 2012, “American policymakers appear to have concluded that accepting Kabila, although ignoring democracy promotion, was the wiser course.” Tiago Faia, an election observer in Congo, wrote later in 2012 about how the United States and other Western nations viewed Kabila as the best bet for stability, despite the botched elections and the country’s weak political institutions:
The West always regarded Kabila as the best option to guarantee peace and stability in the DRC. In his first presidential term, Kabila largely lived up to the West’s expectations. He managed to control the bloody war in the east of the country, temper the country’s volatile relations with Rwanda and Uganda, foster new mineral and commercial deals with the West, and make many Congolese believe in his plans for development.”
As Congo barrels down the path toward an electoral crisis, its clear that the United States was wrong to bet on Kabila at the expense of Congo’s long-term stability and democratic development. ‘The U.S. made a fatal mistake in 2011,” said Laura Seay, professor at Colby College and longtime researcher in Congo. “We let Kabila get away with stealing an election. We made it clear that he needed to stay in the interest of stability. The lesson [to Kabila] was, ‘I can get away with this.’ ”
Kabila is no doubt also watching other African leaders get away with hijacking electoral processes — particularly in countries that receive U.S. and Western funding for peacekeeping missions. Burundi’s Nkurunziza has so far managed to remain in power despite plunging his country into chaos, knowing full well that the African Union and the United Nations would be reluctant to send peacekeeping troops in to back up their threats. U.S. sanctions were levied against individuals in Burundi, which have had little effect. After 30 years in power, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda steamrolled his way this year through elections that were marred by fraud and irregularities. Museveni has repeatedly arrested his main opponent, Kizza Besigye, and put him under house arrest. Besigye is now being charged with treason, which is punishable by death in Uganda. Yet there has been no hint of American sanctions, or a review of the millions in U.S. aid to Uganda’s security sector. And then of course, Paul Kagame of Rwanda engineered a referendum for a constitutional change that would allow him to potentially remain in power until 2034, to which the United States only meekly responded that it was “deeply disappointed” in Kagame’s decision.
All of this is not to say that the United States should stand by and do nothing to help avert the crisis on the horizon for Congo. Sanctions, especially if they are coordinated with the European Union countries, would send a clear message to Kabila that the United States is not playing games this time. However, Kabila’s actions should prompt some serious soul-searching for Africa policymakers in Washington when it comes to rubber-stamping blatantly flawed elections in Africa as free and fair, and preferring short-term stability with strongmen instead of standing with the African people. In Congo’s case, an ounce of standing for democracy in 2011 would have been worth a pound of sanctions in 2016.

 

The Washington Post

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Fatal Firefight in Congo Park Highlights Threats to Rangers

Fatal Firefight in Congo Park Highlights Threats to Rangers

24/05/2016

In this photo taken Monday, May 23, 2016, Erik Mararv, the
 manager of the Garamba National Park in Congo, is
 photographed against a poster backdrop of elephants
 during an interview with The Associated Press in 
Johannesburg, while recuperating from his injuries.
 Mararv described a firefight with elephant poachers
 in which he was wounded and three rangers were
 killed last month in Garamba which is vulnerable to
 attacks from a variety of armed groups that kill 
elephants for their ivory and operate across
 national borders.

Shot by elephant poachers, the manager of Congo's Garamba National Park asked a ranger for help to bind his leg with a tourniquet to slow blood loss.

"While we were doing this, I could hear another person get hit on our right, and then within a few seconds, also hear another person get hit on my left," Erik Mararv said in an interview with The Associated Press in Johannesburg, where he received medical treatment.
Three rangers — half of a unit that deployed to the scene of an elephant killing — were killed in the April 23 shootout in Garamba, where armed groups poach elephants for ivory in one of Africa's most volatile areas.
It was not an isolated incident. A total of 11 Garamba rangers and Congolese soldiers have been killed during anti-poaching missions in the past year, highlighting how conservationists in some parts of the continent become combatants and, on occasion, casualties.
The poachers who attacked the rangers in Garamba, a UNESCO world heritage site, last month are believed to have come from South Sudan, just across the border. Other groups that have operated in Garamba include ivory hunters and militias from Sudan, and the Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group led by Joseph Kony, who is accused of war crimes. The park has also reported incidents in which poachers killed elephants from helicopters.

"We have lost a lot. We are not winning the battle today, but we can win the battle, absolutely," said Mararv, 30, who plans to return to Garamba at the end of the week after getting approval from doctors to fly. Mararv, on crutches, said the bullet that hit his right leg "cut my femur bone cleanly" before tumbling out of his thigh, leaving a "fist-sized hole."
"I was very, very lucky," said Mararv, who expects a full recovery. A Swede born in the Central African Republic, he described the rangers who died — Dimba Richard, Anigobe Bagare and Matikuli Tsago — as "some of our best people."
African Parks, the Johannesburg-based group that manages Garamba and nine other wildlife parks in Africa, wants to increase the number of Garamba rangers from 100 to 250; additionally, some 50 to 100 Congolese soldiers are already deployed to guard the park. African Parks is also considering the acquisition of a "bigger air carrier" more suited to military-style operations than a helicopter that carries fewer people, and wants to increase cooperation with U.N. and American forces operating against armed groups in the area, Mararv said.
Garamba's elephant population has plummeted over the years to an estimated 1,300, and tourism is minimal. Security concerns overshadow funding for schools, health centers and other development initiatives that Mararv said are critical to the park's turnaround but are seen as "not that sexy to talk about."
Violence also erupts in some other African parks.
Zimbabwean rangers confronted 10 suspected elephant poachers from Zambia who had crossed into Zimbabwe's Zambezi National Park at night, and two poachers were killed, Bhejane Trust, a conservation group, said on Facebook last weekend.

In January, elephant poachers in Tanzania fired on a helicopter on an anti-poaching mission, killing the British pilot. In March, rebels in Congo's Virunga National Park killed two rangers, according to park director Emmanuel de Merode.
De Merode, who was seriously injured by gunmen in 2014, has been in touch with Mararv, a friend, since the Swede was shot. De Merode has been "very encouraging," Mararv said.
Garamba rangers inspecting the area after the April fight found the backpack of a ranger killed last year and the South Sudanese poachers are believed to have also suffered casualties, Mararv said. The group had killed an elephant but didn't have time to remove its tusks.
Mararv concluded: "People who die on the ground, they die because of this trade."
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHI
Associated press

Uganda Threatens War On DR Congo Over Lake Albert Attacks

Uganda Threatens War On DR Congo Over Lake Albert Attacks 


24/05/2016



The Uganda government has threatened to use military force against Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) forces if attacks on its citizens on Ugandan soil re-occur, a minister said on Monday.

The threats came three days after four Ugandan police officers were shot dead while patrolling on its territory on Lake Albert by Congolese soldiers.
The outgoing Foreign Affairs minister Okello Oryem, describing the incident as an abhorrent conduct of Congolese soldiers, said a repeat "may compel the Uganda authorities to take self defence measures to protect its citizens."
The Foreign Affairs ministry said the four officers were responding to an illegal fishing incident by DR Congo nationals in Ugandan waters when they were ambushed by the Congolese soldiers.
The lake is shared in roughly equal parts by the two countries and has in recent years been the scene of sometimes deadly clashes, mostly over alleged illegal fishing in each other's waters.
The discovery of commercial oil deposits on the Ugandan side has heightened the tensions, with DRC sometimes accusing Uganda of conducting illegal exploration in its waters.
The frontier area's security is also undermined by the lawless nature of DRC's eastern region where militias roam and Kinshasa's grip is fragile.
Following increased border disputes in 2007, the two countries signed the Ngurdoto Agreement to that provided for a joint commission to verify and define the common borderlines and formulate amicable ways of resolving the disagreements.
The Uganda government Monday summoned DRC's Chargé d'affaires and gave him a protest note demanding Kinshasa to bring to justice the officers responsible for the murder and appropriate compensation to the families of the killed officers.
Mr Oryem said Uganda demanded that "an immediate joint implementation of the agreed to mechanisms under the Ngurdoto Agreement."
Uganda Police chief, General Kale Kayihura said they would reinforce the existing forces at the border points.
The Congolese Deputy Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Christian Katoto, declined to comment on the matter when contacted.
By Rancis Mugerwa and Andrew Bagala
Allfrica

Uganda accuses Congo army of killing four of its police

Uganda accuses Congo army of killing four of its police

24/05/2016
Ugandan Police

Uganda said on Monday four policemen patrolling on its side of Lake Albert had been killed by Congolese troops and demanded Kinshasa punish those responsible.
The lake is shared in roughly equal parts by the two countries and has in recent years been the scene of sometimes deadly clashes, mostly over alleged illegal fishing in each other's waters.
The discovery of commercial oil deposits on the Ugandan side has heightened the tensions, with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sometimes accusing Uganda of conducting illegal exploration in its waters.
The frontier area's security is also undermined by the lawless nature of DRC's eastern region where militias roam and Kinshasa's grip is fragile.
In a statement, Uganda's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the four police personnel had been attacked on Saturday by soldiers of the FARDC, the Congolese army, while "on official patrol duty on Lake Albert within the territorial sphere of Uganda".
Uganda had sent a protest note to Kinshasa and demanded "that the officers of the FARDC who are responsible for the murder ... be brought to justice and appropriate compensation to the bereaved families be effected", the statement said.
Uganda hopes to start pumping crude from the Lake Albert region by 2018.
In 2007 Congolese troops opened fire on a barge belonging to Heritage Oil Corporation (HOC) and a British oil contractor, Carl Nefdt, was shot dead.
DRC accused the company of prospecting for oil in its waters and said its soldiers had acted in self-defence.
HOC then co-owned the fields with Britain's Tullow Oil but later sold out to its partner.
Uganda estimates it has 6.5 billion barrels of crude reserves in the Albertine rift basin fields.
Tullow, French oil major Total and China's Cnooc jointly own the fields. Uganda agreed last month to build a crude export pipeline through Tanzania.
By Elias Biryabarema
Reuters Africa

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Collective punishment in Congo

Collective punishment in Congo

18/05/2016


Camp closures ignore the innocent homeless



People already made homeless by the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are once more at risk, threatened by the closure of camps in North Kivu Province by politicians and the military who regard them as sanctuaries for rebel fighters.
The killing of two soldiers in March in Mpati, in the Masisi region, allegedly by shots fired from inside a camp, was the final straw for the local authorities. They accuse FDLR rebels (originally made up of Hutu forces accused of participating in the Rwandan genocide) of sheltering among the displaced.
According to North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku, the “camps are reservoirs for criminals”. The alleged ease of access for gunmen is frustrating the military campaign against the FDLR, who are accused of rape, killings, extortion and forced recruitment among civilians.
"Each time there are military operations against the FDLRs, the figures for people in the camps increases – it’s because rebels hide in the camps,” Paluku told IRIN.
North Kivu shelters some 781,000 IDPs, with around 45,000 scattered in seven sites in the Mpati area, according to the UN’s emergency aid coordination office, OCHA. The Mpati camps, roughly 100 kilometers southwest of Goma, the North Kivu capital, are mainly inhabited by Congolese Hutus. 
The army’s offensive against the FDLR – a force which analysts estimate numbers around 1,000 men – has rumbled on for more than a year. In the latest round of heavy fighting at the end of March, more than 30,000 people were forced to flee the Mpati camps.
Although the fighting has eased, the authorities say the situation is still too unsafe for the IDPs to return. They have been forced to shelter with local families, who have very little food to spare, or to sleep rough in schools and church grounds in the Mpati area.
OCHA says the situation hides a "forced and definitive closure of the camps" and is a matter of "great concern" for IDP protection. It warned that three other camps in Masisi – Kashuga 1 and 2 and Mweso – are also at risk of closure, likely to force another 19,000 people on the road.

Whose fault?

The IDP camps are under the administration of the National Commission for Refugees, with the support of the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Office for Migration. The government is wholly responsible for security.
Omar Kavota, head of human rights group CEPADHO, says the authorities have “dragged their feet” over warnings by NGOs of weapons in IDP camps.
According to a senior UN official, the presence of weapons in camps is an open secret – an opinion shared by a high-ranking army officer, who asked not to be named.
"Camps harbour fighters. The management of those camps is highly problematic because there are worrying gaps, and maybe some form of complicity,” he told IRIN.
Unable to separate genuine IDPs from the gunmen, the government appears to have opted for the drastic and potentially short-sighted option of closing whatever sites it deems of concern – either de facto or formally.
Chaloka Beyani, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, visited camps in North Kivu and Ituri provinces at the end of April. One of the key reasons for his tour was the threat of camp closures without consultation with the humanitarian community.

Creating more insecurity

"The closure of IDPs camps or sites leads to more displacement. It doesn’t resolve the problem,” he told IRIN. "You create more humanitarian needs. You also create more issues of insecurity in relation to the local population. So the closure must be linked to solutions and a strategy.”
Beyani stressed that "we don’t have accurate information, there is no accurate data" concerning the presence of armed elements in camps, "because profiling, screening, registration is not taking place". He called for the deployment of a "neutral police presence" to deter infiltration.
Camp closures are not new, and as a result there has been a history of friction with aid workers. An agreement two years ago helped ease some of the tension when the authorities promised to consult before shutting sites down, and in 2015 five camps were disbanded.
But the destruction of the Mokoto camp in January this year, home to more than 4,200 people, a week after a single weapon was found, was roundly condemned by humanitarian agencies. They said they had been given far too little time to prepare, and the action was described as "collective punishment imposed on vulnerable people" by the head of OCHA in Congo, Rein Paulsen. 
Paluku denies that Mokoto’s closure was a disproportionate response. "If we manage to find one weapon, it doesn’t mean there is only one. There can be more,” he told IRIN.
"Security standards are not determined by NGOs or OCHA,” he added. "They are waiting for millions, and millions and millions of dollars. For them, camps are a job. But we are a sovereign state. If we feel there are security problems, then we close the camp… I can’t pity criminals."
Paluku also dismisses the accusation that Hutus are falling foul of local politics amid rising tension between them and the majority Nande community.
He claims that Hutus, whether Congolese or Rwandan, tend to settle in areas where "there is no police, nor FARDC (the national army), but only FDLRs. This feeds the idea among other communities that they have a deal with the FDLRs”.
Those who aren’t rebel fighters, but who are simply displaced by the fighting, face yet more hardship at the hands of the very people supposed to protect them.
By Habibou BangrĂ©
IRN


Tuesday, 17 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


18/05/2015
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
ORION CONGO STUDIES NETWORK (O.C.S.N)