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Thread: Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

  1. #1
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    Default Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

    Against a backdrop of growing regional instability (ongoing civil war in the Central African Republic, Boko Haram incursions into Cameroon, state failure in South Sudan), the DRC was scheduled to have a presidential election in November, in line with constitutional requirements. President Kabila (whose re-election in 2011 was tainted by allegations of electoral fraud and corrupt disbursement of state assets to fund his campaign) is seeking to change the current constitutional term limit to run a third time, a move that's being heavily contested by the opposition. At time of writing, the election had been postponed to November 2017, far beyond the expiration of his constitional term limit.

    Originally viewed as something of a poster boy by Western government, Kabila's popularity has waned both internally and internationally - the US has slapped sanctions against a number of his advisers for the killing of protesters by security forces, while the Panama Papers listed Kabila's sister and close associate Dan Gertler (a billionaire described in the papers as 'a merchant of blood diamonds') as off-shore account holders.



    http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20160409-r...et-dan-gertler

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

    Quote Originally Posted by Caora View Post
    Against a backdrop of growing regional instability (ongoing civil war in the Central African Republic, Boko Haram incursions into Cameroon, state failure in South Sudan), the DRC was scheduled to have a presidential election in November, in line with constitutional requirements. President Kabila (whose re-election in 2011 was tainted by allegations of electoral fraud and corrupt disbursement of state assets to fund his campaign) is seeking to change the current constitutional term limit to run a third time, a move that's being heavily contested by the opposition. At time of writing, the election had been postponed to November 2017, far beyond the expiration of his constitional term limit.

    Originally viewed as something of a poster boy by Western government, Kabila's popularity has waned both internally and internationally - the US has slapped sanctions against a number of his advisers for the killing of protesters by security forces, while the Panama Papers listed Kabila's sister and close associate Dan Gertler (a billionaire described in the papers as 'a merchant of blood diamonds') as off-shore account holders.



    http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20160409-r...et-dan-gertler
    What are your own thoughts on this ?

    US sanctions are rarely very far from US interests, protests or not.

    Are we about to see another bit of transitioning ?
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    What are your own thoughts on this ?

    US sanctions are rarely very far from US interests, protests or not.

    Are we about to see another bit of transitioning ?
    Unlikely at this stage. Historically military protests/riots in Kinshasa have been the precursor to regime change but in this situation the army appears to be siding with the central government against protesters. As ever with the DRC it should be borne in mind that the central government's writ rarely extends beyond the capital and the cities. Tshisekedi's party is nominally social-democratic, but the ability of any political party to implement a reform agenda, even with a peaceful transfer of power is doubtful, given institutional weakness and the sheer geography of the country. To give you an idea of the issues facing the DRC, the country has circa 2000km of paved roads - by way of comparison, in 2007 the Republic of Ireland had a total of 5,427.58 km of paved roads, bearing in mind the DRC is 33.5 times the size of the ROI. The telephone network is practically non-existent, the population reliant on patchy local mobile-phone networks and sat phone if they can afford it. In 2012 1.7% of the population had internet access, and wireless radio remains the main form of mass media (albeit heavily censored), with newspaper circulation limited to the cities.

    With regards to the security situation, the east of the country remains the site of two continuing low-level conflicts, the Ituri conflict between rival ethnic tribes and the M23 insurgency, which is backed by Rwanda. The military commanders of the DRC forces in these areas may be considered as equivalent to mercenary/bandit commanders, hiring out their troops for private security, while extorting money and supplies from the local population through roadblocks & forcible requisitions of the harvest. The officers are also involved in illegal logging and mining operations.

    Presently the US has no major strategic interests in the DRC, the French are far more involved militarily and economically in Francophone Africa and have jealously guarded their interests their against 'Anglophone' intrusion while the Chinese are now the country's single largest trading partner and have recently refurbished a number of rail lines in the Katanga region (incidentally the centre of the copper industry). Sanctions against a couple of individuals are an attempt to throw weight around but the US has very limited ability to project either military or economic force in the country.

    Given the prevailing conditions, I agree with a postponement of the elections; ideally, a census should be conducted first as there is a high fertility rate and growing population, and to a large degree 'irregularities' with the 2011 parliamentary & presidential elections were down to a mix of vote-rigging (both at a local level by officials looking to get family members elected and centrally dictated) and the logistical impossibility of conducting free & fair elections within a time-frame of 2 months in a country with the size and ramshackle infrastructure of the DRC. This is the reasoning put forth by the DRC government for the delay, and while it may be a self-serving cynical excuse given the time they've had to prepare for these elections, it's valid nonetheless. Jason Stearns, who wrote a well researched book on the Congo Wars, mentioned in the preface that most Western diplomats he interviewed were doubtful that the 2011 elections would proceed smoothly given the logistical difficulties, but cynically pushed for elections to be held according to schedule anyways despite awareness of the likely problems.

    PS. Stearns book is useful reading but for a full account of the Congolese mess by a serious political scientist I would recommend reading Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe by a guy called Gerard Prunier, he knows the region intimately and was present in Rwanda during the genocide. In addition the book Congo: The Epic History of a People by Steynbrouck gives a good social history of the country, particularly surrounding independence and the Mobutu years. While this may seem like overkill in the context of 2016 elections, most of the problems in the country have roots going back to the time of slavery imho.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2013
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    Default Re: Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

    From April, one I somehow missed, being busy worrying about other ****. We may be back in the danger zone . A super head-wrecker for me, I am almost afraid to talk about this . Up to 6 million are said to have been killed in the last civil war (at least one report claimed it in fact never ended) . This time around lets pay it some attention and it may help ease it , just as embarrassing Israel has stayed it's hand in going full pyscho on the Palestinians over the years . Current problem there being that the Syrian nightmare gives them a fresh cover .
    'The vast central African country has been hit by waves of violence, rebellions, protests and political turmoil in recent months, leading to worries about a new civil war like that which killed five million people between 1997 and 2003....'
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...rebels-in-east

    The latest reports are not nice except to indicate it hasnt gone full blown just yet . Then again there was little media awareness the last time , but hopefully you cant keep a full blown war hidden in the internet age , but you can distract people with too much to worry about, fake news and issue inflation in an age of mass mental illness ( I have one former ultra left fb acquaintance infected by the alt-right virus now for instance). The less affected retreat into apoliticism, localism and the past and just deaf to most everything from massive tax avoidence to this sort of thing , witness the sad decline of this forum and the vitriol on P.ie (I'd start a thread there all the same if the friging thing would let me, surprise there is none )
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/congo
    Last edited by GregTimo; 30-06-2018 at 03:29 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

    Some reminders of the last major catastrophe in the Congo (in fact it continued to simmer to at least 2008) 2008 report 'Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month: study' . https://www.reuters.com/article/us-c...80201220080122

    I can only hope this is hyperboled, the all round horror from 19th century to near past is hard to take in : 2017 report '“A Nightmare In Heaven” — Why Nobody Is Talking About The Holocaust in Congo' https://medium.com/@PanAfricanUnity/...o-53f8ab27fb97

    And 2006 report in 'Time' magazine 'The Deadliest War In The World' (pay-walled except for intro) http://content.time.com/time/magazin...198921,00.html

  6. #6
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    Aug 2013
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    Default Re: Growing tensions in the DRC - Kabila extends term in office

    As the Rwanda thread is 4 years silent I'll post this here as related . A chance find on Rwandan dictator Kagame's link to the US Isreal lobby ( a man accused of propelling the worst genocide since World War Two and described by leading Rwanda expert Philip Reyntjens as “probably the worst war criminal in office today.” ) From 2013 , and Kagame is still in power today. Nice to know that Blumental is far from being an RT puppet even if he has worked for them

    http://maxblumenthal.com/2013/10/ano...enocide-panel/

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