DRC elections point to Africa’s rebirth: Mbeki

Writing in his weekly column on the ruling African National Congress party’s website, Mbeki said the DRC poll had shown that the country and the continent as a whole were beginning a new lease of life, which would not be soiled by the history of tyranny.

He said the elections had been a significant step in the quest for Africa’s renewal and a rebellion “against the tyrants and the dictators” who “seek to corrupt our societies and steal the wealth that belongs to the people”.

“Because they dared to rebel against the tyrants and the dictators, those who seek to corrupt our societies and steal the wealth that belongs to the people, the great masses of the Democratic Republic of Congo have served as a powerful propellant that will accelerate Africa’s advance towards her renaissance,” Mbeki said.

Incumbent Joseph Kabila won the DRC’s first elections in 41 years in October and was sworn in on Wednesday.

Kabila won 58.05 percent of the vote, while rival Jean-Pierre Bemba garnered 41.95 percent in the second round poll that was marred by flashes of violence.

The presidential poll followed parliamentary elections held in July and led to clashes between Bemba’s guard and Kabila’s troops in August, which resulted in the deaths of at least 23 people.

In November, election-related violence flared again, claiming four lives and heightening tensions in Kinshasa.

However, despite the violence and allegations of vote-rigging during the elections, international observers gave the poll the thumbs-up.

The United Nations Security Council praised the “civic responsibility” of the DRC people after the vote, saying the elections “are historic for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and it looks forward to the installation of a democratically elected government”.

Mbeki said the DRC’s achievement of successful elections sent a message of a bright future for all of the country’s neighbours, who should “seize the moment” and build “a new neighbourhood of friendship and shared prosperity” for the DRC and its neighbours.

“In due course, the historic importance of these developments in the DRC will become clear to all of us as Africans.

“We will come to appreciate the enormous effort and the extraordinary will to succeed that made it possible for the leaders and the people of the DRC to take their country to where it is today, when it has recaptured from the clutches of a disastrous past the right of the great Congolese masses to determine their destiny in conditions of democracy, national unity, peace and stability.

“What has happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo must give each Congolese, and, indeed, each African, a feeling of a birth in himself or herself, of another person, impelled by an historical conscience, a true creator, a Promethean carrier of a new civilisation,” Mbeki said.

South Africa invested heavily in the process towards a democratic election in the DRC, with Mbeki playing a key role in negotiations towards peace in the diamond-rich country believed to be possibly the richest country in Africa in terms of natural endowments.

December 2006
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