Is DR Congo Jogging Up for Another Civil War?

By Festus Iyorah

For many Congolese opposition parties, ousting President Joseph Kabila in the forthcoming Democratic Republic of Congo election in December is a fight to finish.

As recent talks of Congo President, Joseph Kabila, hanging on beyond the expiry of his second term on December 20 continue to whip up tension in the country and opposition parties drumming war songs, FESTUS IYORAH reports the country could yet be on the brink of another civil war unless something drastic happens.

For many Congolese opposition parties, ousting President Joseph Kabila in the forthcoming Democratic Republic of Congo election in December is a fight to finish. Most of them are fanning embers of violence over alleged plan of Kabila to secure a third term bid.

It all began when the Constitutional Court ruled in May that Kabila, who took power after his father’s assassination, could remain in office in a caretaker capacity beyond the end of the mandate. The opposition parties kicked against the ruling, arguing it was an attempt to extend Kabila’s rule

“It is unacceptable,” said Union for Democracy and Social Progress spokesman Felix Tshisekedi, whose father finished runner-up to Kabila in a disputed vote in 2011. “For us the

Red line is December 19 and Kabila must leave office,” he said.

This crisis has also led to the death of at least 17 people during anti-government crisis, aljazeera reports.

President Kabila came to power in January 2001 to succeed his father, President Laurent Kabila who was shot dead by a bodyguard.

He then won elections in 2006 and 2011 but is prevented from running for a third term by the constitution.

Crippling the constitution?

Opposition parties alleged Kabila of planning to cripple the constitution ahead of the forthcoming poll, warning that such act would lead to violence.

According to the constitution, Kabila should announce the presidential election — 90 days before his term ends (September 19). Presidential elections were originally scheduled for November, but have been delayed to provide more time to update the country’s voter roll.

Justice Minister and ruling-party member Alexis Thambwe had stated that Kabila will remain in power until the voter-registration process has been completed and an election can be held, but didn’t say how long this would take. But opposition parties kicked against the move alleging violation of the constitution.

Eve Bazaiba, the secretary-general of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo, said “To accept this agreement would be to accept a violation of the constitution. The mandate of the president is fixed; he must step down in December.”

Uniting against Kabila

In recent weeks, members of the opposition parties are uniting together to form a formidable force to oust Kabila.

In Belgium last month, DR Congo’s opposition parties rallied behind Etienne Tshisekedi, 83, in a new alliance named “Rassemblement” (Rally) that aims to ensure Kabila quits.

DR Congo’s opposition has never before managed to forge a common front against Kabila, who beat Tshisekedi in the last presidential election in 2011. But now, both the UDPS and MLC, along with a majority of other are trying to form a tough opposition.

Aside opposition parties, the youths also vowed to go on rampage if Kabila refused to step down on December 20.

Thousands of the youths who thronged a rally recently organised by opposition parties waved banners reading “Change is now,” even as they called for the release of some of their leaders detained.

One group of the youths carried a coffin daubed with anti-Kabila slogans. Series of opposition protests which started on Monday September 9, 2016 are currently underway as panic deepens among citizens of the country.

Opposition supporters and security forces have clashed regularly during ant-government rallies in the past two years.

The United Nations warned that the crisis might snowball into another civil war.

UN chief Ban Ki- moon said the apparent lack of meaningful political dialogue among Congo’s political class and tensions in the country could degenerate into a severe crisis “with a high risk of relapse into violence and instability.”

Congo, Africa’s biggest copper producer, has never had a peaceful transfer of leadership. On June 30, 1960, Belgium declared the country an independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since then, the country has been immersed in series of post-independence crisis arising mainly from political power tussle. Notable among them is a brutal civil war that lasted between 1960, few days after independence and 1964. – The African Exponent

September 2016
« Aug   Oct »