Future of Congo’s democracy

Future of Congo’s democracy
Protests against Joseph Kabila Kabange, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have intensified in the region. There are reports of multiple deaths due to the violence and around 120..

Protests against Joseph Kabila Kabange, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have intensified in the region. There are reports of multiple deaths due to the violence and around 120 people have been arrested by the government.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has also called on the controversial President to step down.

Background

The region that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo was first settled about 80,000 years ago. Bantu migration arrived in the region from Nigeria in the 7th century AD.

Conflict and violence has played a major role in the existence of modern day Congo. After an uprising by the Congolese people, Belgium surrendered to the independence of the Congo in 1960. However, Congo was left unstable because tribal leaders had more power than the central government. The First Congo War, which occurred between 1996 and 1997, was a foreign invasion of Zaire led by Rwanda that replaced President Mobutu Sésé Seko with the rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. The Second Congo War began in August 1998 and involved some of the same issues. It officially ended in July 2003.

The nation is home to immense economic resources and this has partly fueled the violence further as malicious players have tried to get their hands on the nation’s riches. Fighting was fueled by the country's vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources. There is a strong presence of militia as well.  A large UN peacekeeping force has been established in the East of the nation in order to keep the militia under control.

Joseph Kabila Kabange has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. According to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Kabila should not be allowed to serve more than two terms. On 19 September 2016, massive protests calling for him to step down. The ensuing violence resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people. Despite the fact, the elections were scheduled earlier to be held in 2016, the nation's electoral authority announced that the election would not be held until early 2018.

Analysis

Despite promises made by Kabange that he would step down, he has relinquished power since 2016. Protests erupted in the region as a result.

Several people have been killed and more than 120 others arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo as security forces violently dispersed protests by opposition and religious groups calling for the resignation of the country's president. There are reports of multiple deaths due to the violence and around 120 people have been arrested by the government. UN Chief Antonio Guterres has also called on the controversial President to step down.

The protests were organized by the opposition and the rally was also joined in by Catholic protestors who also prayed for the President to resign peacefully. "If your term is over, give opportunities to others to run. You're a son of the country, you belong in the senate. Give the others the opportunity to lead; maybe they'll do it better than you did," Lotika Nelly, an injured protester, said from a makeshift clinic.

"We are telling everybody, all over the world, this guy has to go. This guy doesn't like Congo. This guy has nothing to do with Congo and his time is up,” said Martin Fayulu, an opposition leader.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the Congo’s democracy is at stake presently. President Kabange has flouted the law of the land and has refused to relinquish power despite his term ending in 2016. The region is already beset by corruption and economic disparity and failed elections would further add to the discord among the people.

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