En République Démocratique Du Congo, l'Opposition Doit Se Concentrer sur la Transition Vers les Elections, et NON Sur les Conflits Personnels

La mort récente du leader vénéré de l'opposition politique congolaise, Etienne Tshisekedi, a nécessité une réorganisation de la direction du mouvement.

Les hauts responsables politiques du mouvement, connu sous le nom de «Rassemblement des Forces Politiques Acquises au Changement», se sont réunis le 2 mars 2017 pour choisir leurs nouveaux coordonnateurs principaux. Ils ont choisi Felix Tshisekedi comme Président du Mouvement et Pierre Lumbi comme Président du Conseil des Sages.

M. Lumbi, un ancien ministre du gouvernement, est l'une des personnalités politiques les plus importantes qui avaient retiré leurs partis de la majorité pro-Kabila pour faire partie du groupe de Sept, G7. M. Lumbi et ses collègues du G7 avaient abandonné la Majorité Présidentielle de Kabila pour protester contre l'échec du Président à mettre en œuvre la constitution de la RDC qui exigeait une élection présidentielle au plus tard en novembre 2016.

Félix Tshisekedi, bien sûr, est le candidat du Rassemblement de l'Opposition à être le Premier ministre par intérim chargé de préparer et de tenir l'élection présidentielle avant la fin de 2017. Dans l'accord du 31 décembre 2016 entre la Majorité présidentielle et le Rassemblement de l'Opposition, ce dernier avait reçu la responsabilité de désigner le Premier ministre intérimaire.

Selon les articles de la presse, certains dirigeants de partis au sein du Rassemblement de l’Opposition s'opposent à la sélection de Tshisekedi et de Lumbi en tant que nouveaux dirigeants principaux et menacent d'abandonner le mouvement. C'est malheureux, car l'objectif principal du Rassemblement de l'Opposition, en ce moment, est de travailler à la préparation et à la mise en œuvre d'une élection présidentielle. Cette élection permettra au peuple congolais de choisir sa nouvelle autorité gouvernementale de manière démocratique. Pendant et après, cette élection, les différents partis politiques et les politiciens seront libres de briguer le pouvoir. Ils ne devraient pas maintenant aider le Président Kabila et ses proches à retarder le processus électoral plus loin que ce qu'il a déjà fait.

Il semble que M. Olengankoy, ancien dirigeant de l'opposition et membre du Rassemblement, et M. Bruno Tshibala, Secrétaire général adjoint de l'UDPS, disputent le consensus autour de Félix Tshisekedi et Pierre Lumbi, dans un acte désespéré qui pourra retarder l'élection présidentielle et Législatives 2017.

A cet égard, je ne doute pas que derrière les désaccords signalés au sein du  Rassemblement de l'Opposition se trouve la main néfaste du porte-parole présidentiel Lambert Mende qui n'a qu'un seul objectif en politique: saboter la démocratie et perpétuer le pouvoir de la famille Kabila. J'espère que lors de la réunion de l'Union Européenne, la semaine prochaine, pour discuter de la RDC, ils discuteront de la possibilité d'étendre les sanctions à M. Mende et à d'autres personnalités anti-démocratiques dans le régime de Kabila. Les États-Unis ont promis de sanctionner les membres du gouvernement et les dirigeants de l'opposition qui sapent le processus démocratique en RDC. J'invite M. Olengankoyi et Bruno Tshibala à revoir leur position pour permettre le processus démocratique de progresser.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Opposition Must Concentrate on the Transition to Elections, NOT on Personal Feuds

The recent death of the Congolese political opposition’s revered leader Etienne Tshisekedi has required a reorganization of the movement’s leadership.

The senior politicians in the movement, known as the “Reunion of Political Forces Committed to Change”, met on March 2, 2017 to select their new principal coordinators. They selected Felix Tshisekedi as President of the Movement, and Pierre Lumbi as President of the Council of Elders.

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En RDC, Les menaces de Lambert Mende Pour Emprisonner Moise Katumbi sont une Insulte à la Mémoire du Feu Tshisekedi

A la veille du retour du feu Etienne Tshisekedi au Congo pour ses funérailles d'Etat, le porte-parole du gouvernement Lambert Mende menace Moise Katumbi de prison s'il accompagnait les dépouilles du héros sur la route de Kinshasa.

La déclaration de Mende sur Katumbi est à la fois une insulte à son ami et allié, le feu Tshisekedi, et un acte illégitime. Le juge qui a trouvé Katumbi coupable de fraude, s'est ensuite enfui en Belgique où elle a dit à la presse qu'elle avait agit seulement sous la menace de mort, et qu'il n'y avait aucune base pour les accusations portées contre lui. La juge a également informé les enquêteurs de la CENCO que les accusations contre Katumbi sont totalement fausses.

M. Mende devrait avoir honte de lui-même pour avoir profané en ce moment solennel de deuil national pour Etienne Tshisekedi. Il devrait également avoir honte d'essayer de faire pression sur la CENCO qui a la responsabilité de décider du sort de M. Katumbi en ce qui concerne les accusations douteuses contre lui.

Monsieur Mende, soyez adulte. Votre Président et le peuple de la République Démocratique du Congo méritent d'être traités avec respect.

In the DRC, Lambert Mende’s Threats to Jail Moise Katumbi are an Insult to the Memory of the late Tshisekedi

On the eve of the late Etienne Tshisekedi’s return to the Congo for his state funeral, presidential spokesman Lambert Mende is threatening Moise Katumbi with prison if he accompanies the hero’s remains on route to Kinshasa.

Mende’s statement about Katumbi is both an insult to his friend and ally, the late Tshisekedi, and an illegitimate act. The judge who found Katumbi guilty of fraud later fled to Belgium, where she told the press that she acted only under the threat of death, and that there was no basis for the charges against him. The judge also informed the CENCO investigators that the accusations against Katumbi are totally false.

Mr. Mende should be ashamed of himself for profaning this solemn moment of national mourning for Etienne Tshisekedi.  He should also be ashamed of trying to put pressure on the CENCO that has responsibility for deciding Mr. Katumbi’s fate with respect to the dubious accusations against him.

Mr. Mende, be an adult. Your President and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo deserve to be treated with respect.

 

Status Report on the Political Situation in the DRC as of January 20, 2017

Status Report on the Political Situation in the DRC as of January 20, 2017

The original, and most important, violation of the DRC constitution took place on November 19, 2016 when the scheduled presidential election did NOT take place. One month later on December 19, President Kabila ceased to be the elected President of the DRC. On this date, President Kabila became the Transitional President of the DRC. 

As Transitional president of the DRC, President Kabila no longer commands the majority of the Congolese people. He must, therefore, share power with the opposition until the new presidential election takes place.

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RDC: Rapport d'Etape au 20 janvier 2017 sur la Situation Politique

RDC: Rapport d'Etape au 20 janvier 2017 sur la Situation Politique

La violation initiale et la plus importante de la constitution de la RDC a eu lieu le 19 novembre 2016 lorsque l’élection présidentielle prévue n’a PAS eu lieu. Un mois plus tard, le 19 décembre 2016, le président Kabila a cessé d’être le président élu de la RDC. Aujourd’hui, le Président Kabila est devenu Président de la Transition de la RDC.

En tant que Président de la Transition de la RDC, le président Kabila ne commande plus la majorité de la population de la RDC. Il doit donc partager le pouvoir avec l’opposition jusqu’à ce que la nouvelle élection présidentielle ait lieu.

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Questions on Africa for Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson

Questions on Africa for Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Rex Tillerson, the President of the Exxon Mobil Corporation, to be the next Secretary of State. On Wednesday January 11, 2017, Mr. Tillerson will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will later vote on whether or not to recommend his confirmation to the full Senate.

It is expected that the senators will concentrate at the outset on Mr. Tillerson’s close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under Tillerson’s leadership, ExxonMobil has invested heavily in oil and gas fields in the Russian Arctic. The senators will want to know if Tillerson’s special and close relations with the Russian leadership could cause problems for US policy toward Russia after he becomes Secretary of State.

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Military Mutinies in Côte d’Ivoire: Instability May Persist Through 2020

Military Mutinies in Côte d’Ivoire: Instability May Persist Through 2020

Extensive and coordinated military mutinies in Côte d’Ivoire during the first week of January 2017 have been attributed to grievances about pay and housing allowances. But we should not have any illusions. This event has a political dimension that could keep Côte d’Ivoire on the edge of instability until the presidential election of 2020. 

There was high tension in several Côte d’Ivoire cities during first week of January 2017. Military units mutinied against their civilian leadership in the major cities, including Abidjan and Bouaké. The mutinous soldiers were fully armed, and in some residential neighborhoods, they frightened people by firing their weapons.

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Political Agreement in the Congo

In a two-month negotiation mediated by the DRC Conference of Catholic Bishops, CENCO, President Kabila’s parliamentary majority and their political opposition have achieved an agreement that should guarantee the president’s departure after the completion of a free and fair election toward the end of 2017. 

The opposition leaders are pleased with the agreement, and have expressed their satisfaction in public. Nevertheless, many in the opposition remain skeptical that President Kabila will actually accept to depart as the election comes closer. At the same time, all are wondering how US policy favoring constitutional good governance might change under future President Trump, and whether his administration will continue Obama’s policy of maintaining pressure on Kabila to step down immediately after the next election is completed.

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Political Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Still Far from Being Resolved

As of Friday, December 23, there were signs of a breakthrough in political negotiations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo being conducted under the mediation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops (CENCO). There were some positive developments, but the key issues are far from resolution.

These developments include some important concessions by the “Majority” representing President Joseph Kabila:

•    Moving the presidential election forward from April 2018 to the “end” of 2017.

•    There will be a neutral “Transitional Council” to ensure the transition and election will be honest.

•    Assurances that the constitution will not be amended to call for a referendum, and that the President will not seek to run for a third term, pursuant to his earlier public statements.

•    The Prime Minister will be selected from the ranks of the “opposition.”

The main opposition, known as “Le Rassamblement,” remains unsatisfied with the majority’s concessions for the following reasons:

•    The true opposition insists on selecting the Prime Minister. If the President selects the Prime Minister, he will undoubtedly continue with the recently selected Samy Badibanga, considered a bogus “opposition” who has joined President Kabila’s camp. The true opposition wants a Prime Minister who will have considerable power to make sure the transition is honest. 

•    The true opposition wants the independent electoral commission, known as CENI, to be reorganized with truly independent individuals. The “majority” wants the present CENI, which has been totally in the President’s pocket for years, to continue.

•    The true opposition wants opposition political personalities to be released without prejudice from politically motivated charges against them. The “majority” wants them to be reviewed by a commission of judges, all of whom are controlled by the President.

•    The true opposition wants presidential candidate Moise Katumbi, who has been charged with “fraud,” to be allowed to return to the Congo and campaign, with the bogus charges dropped. The majority says that Katumbi must also be reviewed by the presidentially controlled magistrates.

•    The true opposition wants President Kabila to sign the final document, as a guarantee that he will uphold the agreement. President Kabila refuses to do that.

These are major hurdles to overcome. Assuming that President Kabila has no intention of going back on his word to depart as soon as his successor is elected, it is increasingly clear from his current bargaining positions that he intends to control who will succeed him, most likely a member of his family. It is also quite clear that President Kabila is determined to block his bitter enemy, Moise Katumbi, from being a presidential candidate.

It is premature to consider the negotiations to be successful. The DRC is still in grave danger.

African Presidents Have Significant Experience with Election “Rigging”

African Presidents Have Significant Experience with Election “Rigging”

American presidential candidate Donald Trump has made several public statements accusing politicians at the federal and state levels of “rigging” the current elections. He declared that the entire system, at every level, is being manipulated to deny him the presidency. So far, as of November 6, 2016, he has not yet supplied any evidence to support his accusation.

In sub-Saharan Africa, incumbent heads of state have developed the high art of rigging elections over several decades of practical experience.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in Danger of Descending Into Chaos Before The End of the Year

(from Diplomatic Courier)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa’s largest country by area, is headed for a major internal conflagration if something isn’t done soon to bring about a negotiated internal political settlement. Let’s not forget that the Congo is part of Central Africa’s “Great Lakes Region” that has witnessed three major ethnic genocides in the past forty years: Burundi 1972; Rwanda 1994; and the Congo 1996.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila is now in the final months of his second elected term. The Congolese constitution limits nation’s heads of state to two terms. A democratic election to select Kabila’s successor should normally take place next month in November 2016. Unfortunately, Kabila’s administration has deliberately failed to provide funding for the preparation of the election. The political opposition is gearing up for major street demonstrations to take place on December 20, Kabila’s final day in office in the event he insists on remaining in power. Kabila can diffuse all of this if he steps down, paving the way for an interim regime that will hold elections within a few months.

I have written an open letter to President Kabila recommending that he take the statesmanlike option of stepping down on the final day of his mandate, thereby gaining the gratitude and esteem of the Congolese people.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is Becoming Quite Tense: There Could Be Trouble in the Weeks Ahead

A growing number of observers are really worried about the possibility of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC] in the coming weeks.

The DRC, once known as the Belgian Congo and more recently for a time as Zaire, is Africa's biggest country, and one of the world's major sources of strategic minerals. During the period 1998-2002, it was the scene of the bloodiest war since World War II, with five million people killed. Today the country remains badly governed, plagued by corruption, and the focus of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in recent history.

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Post-Election Tensions in Gabon

The recent re-election of Gabonese President Ali Bongo is being hotly contested by Mr. Jean Ping, the opposing candidate, who was defeated by a narrow margin of 6,000 votes. Mr. Ping charges the Independent National Electoral Commission of fraudulently manipulating the vote count.

After the election results were announced, there was rioting in the streets of Libreville, the capital city. Police repression of the demonstrations resulted in the deaths of two demonstrators and much property damage. Opposition candidate Jean Ping’s party headquarters was heavily damaged by a police attack. 

The international community, including the United States, is advising President Bongo to order the publication of the vote count at each polling station so as to reassure the voters that the national vote count was accurate. So far, the electoral commission has refused to do this, thereby furthering suspicion that the final count was manipulated in President Bongo’s favor.

Fearing more violence, the French government is sending additional military units to Gabon in order to protect the 15,000 French citizens residing there.

Does Jean Ping have a good reason to question the vote count? I believe he does. First, Ping had observers at every polling station where the votes were counted openly. He was able to collate the reports of all of his observers and reach the conclusion that he was the real winner with 58% of the vote.

Secondly, President Ali Bongo is the son of Gabon’s second President Omar Bongo who ruled the country from 1967 to 2011. Omar Bongo had significant oil revenues during his presidency, but very little of it was used for poverty reduction among Gabon’s 1.7 million population. Ali Bongo followed in his father’s footsteps with very little benefits for the people. I am persuaded that the Gabonese people are tired of Bongo family rule. 

I know Jean Ping personally. He is a true statesman. He was a successful Secretary General of the Africa Union, and served the late Omar Bongo as Foreign Minister. I am persuaded that, at age 77, he would make an effort to lift the Gabonese people out of poverty. 

In case anyone is curious, Jean Ping had a Chinese father and a Gabonese mother. He has distinct Chinese features.

Government Owned Oil Companies: Enabling the Resource Curse in Africa

Crude oil has been flowing from African wells, both on land and beneath the oceans, since the mid 1970s. Before then, Africa’s main source of revenue was agriculture.

International oil companies have been the most important source of investment capital needed to find and produce oil in African countries. The international oil companies have also provided the technology and expertise needed to keep African crude oil flowing to international markets. At the present time (2016), African nations produce approximately six million barrels of crude oil per day.

How do African governments and the international oil companies share the wealth coming from crude oil flows and export sales?

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Hissène Habré’s Conviction for Crimes Against Humanity

Hissène Habré, the President of the Republic of Chad from 1982 to 1990, has been convicted of crimes against humanity by a special tribunal in the Republic of Senegal. He has been sentenced to life in prison. The punishment is well deserved. He could have been a hero to his fellow Africans for standing up to the bullying of dictator Moamar Gaddafi in neighboring Libya. But he was totally blood thirsty, murdering as many as 40,000 political opposition and ordinary citizens merely because they belonged to ethnic groups that he considered treasonous or dangerous. 

The trial and conviction in an African court of a former African head of state for crimes against humanity, may have set an interesting precedent for the international criminal courts system. African leaders and intellectuals have complained that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague appears to be concentrating almost exclusively on African suspects. They appear to be ignoring criminal perpetrators who are hiding in plain sight in Latin America and Asia. The current President of Sudan is under indictment by the ICC, but he travels freely in African countries that refuse to do their international duty and extradite him to The Hague. The Hissène Habré convinction in Senegal may mark the beginning of the end of the ICC’s jurisdiction in Africa. 

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