DR Congo elections: more questions than answers
DR Congo elections: more questions than answersIn Democratic Republic of Congo, upcoming elections have many braced for renewed violence.
In the days leading up to Congo’s Nov 28 general election, observers fear that confrontations between government opposition and supporters could destabilise the country further.
Anti-government forces in the militia-controlled east have reportedly burned voter cards to keep people away from polls. And police in urban areas are said to be carrying live rounds into crowds of protesters.
Opposition politicians and outside election observers have accused the Congolese electoral commission of fraud, saying officials have registered non-existent voters.
Current Congolese President Joseph Kabila is likely to be reelected. Kabila enjoys a considerable advantage because the opposition is deeply fractured between 10 other candidates. Kabila inherited the presidency in 2001 after the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, who led the 1997 rebellion that forced Mobutu Sese Seko out of power. The upcoming elections are only the second since the end of Mobutu’s 32-year reign.
The first elections in 2006 were administered by the UN, and by most accounts were free and fair, despite scattered reports of violence between militia members allied with the two main candidates. Around 70 per cent of Congolese citizens participated, and Joseph Kabila won with just over half of the votes.
Congo continues to be mired in violence and poverty despite having rich mineral reserves. From 1998 to 2003, the country was the epicentre of an armed conflict between government security forces (backed by Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola) and anti-government militias, who received support from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.
During that period, an estimated 3 million people were killed in fighting or by epidemics of disease and hunger. Millions more have been displaced, and the use of sexual violence by both sides has led UN officials to call Congo the “rape capital of the world.”
The government and rebel groups signed a peace agreement in 2003 but fighting was renewed in 2008 in eastern Congo, a region that remains largely in the control of anti-government militias.
In this episode of The Stream, we speak to journalist Mvemba Dizolele and filmmaker Petna Ndaliko Katondolo about the way forward in Congo.
Can the DRC overcome this political impasse? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.
These are some highlights of the conversation around the web: