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Joseph Kabila and DRC Election Challenges

Oct  2018

By Dr. Flavien Shirandi

Joseph Kabila is the son of Laurent-Desire Kabila, the third President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was assassinated on January 16, 2001 after four years of presidency, May 1997 – January 16, 2001. Laurent Kabila was a major voice and a political activist who helped to fight to protect the country of the DRC from neighboring invasion and wars. His death was a shock not only to the nation of the DRC, but also to his own family. Ten days after his state funeral, his son, Joseph Kabila took over as the acting President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to continue the government of his late father, Laurent Kabila. According to source (notablebiographies.com), Joseph Kabila became the president of the Congo in 2001 at the age of 29 years old when his late father, Laurent Kabila, president at the time, was assassinated. Continuing in the place of his late father Laurent Kabila, as a non-political President, Joseph Kabila in addition to organizing a democratic general election, worked to establish a network of friendly relationship with Congo's neighboring countries while he fought to restrict the operations of foreign forces from the DRC. 

In 2006 Joseph Kabila became the first democratic elected President of the DRC after he won the Presidential and parliamentary elections held on July 30, 2006. This year was reckoned as a year of hope for the Congolese people. According to report (un.org), 2006 was a pivotal year for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the first democratic elections since the country’s independence from Belgium, more than 40 years ago. The results of polling were ultimately respected by the contenders. This was a success that Congo-watchers called miraculous (un.org). This notwithstanding, the United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), reported that 2006 was also a year of major challenges and achievements (un.org). Five years later, on 28th of November 2011, Joseph Kabila was re-elected for a second term. The 2011 elections were an opportunity to reinforce a democratic culture with participation from the full range of political actors and the support of the international community. 

Since his victory of 2011 election, Joseph Kabila has faced so many challenges ranging from internal criticism from the opposition party, crisis, and civil unrest to international criticisms especially from France, Britain, and the USA. Moreover, amidst speculations that Kabila would run for the third time in the forthcoming presidential election, when he delayed and postponed the elections as earlier scheduled, sanctions upon sanctions, upon sanctions from the US, France and Britain have not helped the matter, but rather, they make things get worse for the people of the DRC.  The idea of sanctions is to pressure Kabila to not run the third time in the presidential elections, and also to create a chaos situation that would warrant the opposition party and the entire DRC nation to revolt against Joseph Kabila. Tom Wilson, London, August 8, 2018 has reported that “The US and the EU have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on senior members of his political and security apparatus since 2016, and Washington was preparing further sanctions against people close to the president.” 

Despite all the threats from the International Community, President Kabila has refused to yield to pressures since he seems to understand the intent of the international community on the country of the DRC. Tom Wilson (2018) reported “Until now Mr. Kabila had given no public indication of any commitment to stand down.” Jina More and Wembi wrote that the United Nations will host a donor conference to raise $1.7 billion for the violence-wracked Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the government of President Joseph Kabila has said that it will boycott the gathering, denying that his central African nation faces a humanitarian crisis at all. As a result, President Joseph Kabila has faced both internal rebellion and international criticism. 

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had stated that “The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a historic opportunity to carry out its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power, she said. This development is another step, but there is much more to be done.” 

It is noteworthy to understand that the country of the DRC has long being exploited and is still being exploited by international community because of it richness in natural resources. For instance, Katrina Manson in Washington, August 5, 2018 reported that President Donald Trump’s pick for US ambassador to Congo, said many of its minerals, which also include uranium and the world’s largest reserves of cobalt, an essential input for mobile phones, “are critical to US industry.” This is an abuse of power and international exploitation of a country such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to David Julius, April 14, 2016, “The Democratic Republic of the Congo possesses vast amounts of natural wealth which includes gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, cobalt, oil, tungsten, tin, etc., currently estimated at approximately $24 trillion worth of raw minerals.” The country has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. This makes the DRC potentially one of the richest countries in the world (David Julius, 2016). 

Due to substantial depreciation from colonialism, slavery and corruption which pushed exploitation of the country’s natural resources overboard, the country has remained one of the poorest and most underdeveloped nations on this planet. Joseph Kabila as the President understands the politics surrounding these exploitations by the international communities. His idea to foster peace, create an environment of friendly relationships among his country men and women, is obvious. And, as such, the international community – US and EU don’t seem to flow with President Kabila’s modus operandi. Hence, the pressure to yield in to their dictates so that they can continue to exploit the nation of the DRC remains questionable. The Democratic Republic of Congo is an independent country and should be seen as such, and should be allowed to run its nation’s affairs and organize their government. This is one of Kabila’s agenda, to free the Congolese from international infiltrations and infringements.

 President Kabila recently announced to the world that he will not stand for another election. He also has set the dates to be December 2018 as against August 2018 earlier suggested by France, US and EU.  In addition to that Kabila has refused to meet with Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, as well as UN secretary-general António Guterres and the head of the African Union. He has also refused international money and technical assistance for the polls. A report confirmed that Mr. Kita, a member of Kabila’s government said the calls for assistance are “a demonization campaign against the Congolese nation and its people. He continues to urge other African officials, to denounce any kind of foreign aid effort, and rather, govern their African countries free of international mingling. This is one way President Kaila intends to govern the DRC in order to give it a face. Refusing humanitarian aids from the international communities and refusing supports of any kind for the election, seems to be a big disappointment France, the US and EU who worry on how they can further exploit the country of its wealth.

President Kabila is a man of vision whose strategies seem to logical to the international communities, especially France, the US and EU. He has set in motion the system that if allowed to function, will see the country of the DRC plummet to glory in the nearest future. He is beckoning all African leaders and Heads of States to refuse foreign humanitarian aids because, these aids are nothing but debts, a ploy to exploit the wealth of Africa and destroy the image of our nations. This is an important lesson every African leader should learn. The earlier Africa begin to be independent and shun foreign aids, the better we will learn to govern our nations free of foreign dictatorship. Africa is blessed with so much of natural wealth and our ability to do things for our countries the better Africa is represented on a global map as a wealthy continent.

 

References

Julius, D. (2016). DR Congo: Richest in resources yet poorest country in the world. Retrieved from http://blog.swaliafrica.com/dr-congo-richest-in-resources-yet-poorest-country-in-the-world/

Manson, K. (2018). Trump administration to impose further sanction on DRC. The Financial Times Limited. Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/565c3308-96eb-11e8-b747-fb1e803ee64e

More, J, Wembi, S. (2018). Mineral wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Blessing or curse? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/07/world/africa/congo-kabila-aid.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FKabila%2C%20Joseph&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection

United Nations. (2006). Despite millions of displaced people, Congo rejects U.N. aid effort. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/ar/peacekeeping/publications/yir/2006/congo.htm

Wilson, T. (2018). Congo’s President Joseph Kabila will not stand for re-election. The Financial Times Limited. Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/b8b39756-9aee-11e8-9702-5946bae86e6d

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