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.

Mr. Lumbi, a former government minister, is one of several senior political personalities who took their parties out of the pro-Kabila majority to go into opposition as the “Group of Seven” (G-7). Mr. Lumbi, and his colleagues in the G-7, abandoned the Kabila majority in protest at the President’s failure to implement the DRC constitution that required a presidential election no later than November 2016.

Felix Tshisekedi, of course, is the united opposition’s nominee to be the interim Prime Minister responsible for preparing and holding the presidential election before the end of 2017. In the agreement of December 31, 2016, between the Presidential Majority and the United Opposition, the latter was awarded the responsibility for designating the interim Prime Minister.

According to press reports, some of the party leaders within the United Opposition are objecting to the selection of Tshisekedi and Lumbi as the new principal leaders, and are threatening to abandon the movement. This is unfortunate, because the main objective of the United Opposition, at this moment, is to work to prepare and implement a presidential election. This election will allow the Congolese people to select their new governmental leadership in a democratic fashion. During, and after, that election, the different political parties and politicians will be free to compete for power. They should not now be helping President Kabila and his close associates to delay the electoral process any further than he has already done.

In this regard, I have no doubt that behind the reported disagreements within the United Opposition lies the nefarious hand of Presidential Spokesman Lambart Mende, who has only one objective in politics: sabotage democracy and perpetuate the power of the Kabila family. I hope that in the European Union’s meeting to discuss the DRC this coming week, they will discuss the possibility of extending sanctions to Mr. Mende and other anti-democracy personalities in the Kabila regime.