Changing the political trajectory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will require altering the political calculus of President Joseph Kabila which underpins the systematic efforts he is making to sidestep term limits, writes Joseph Siegle (right), Director of Research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
“The tipping point towards grave violence could arrive very rapidly,” said Maman Sidikou, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), who called for restraint by all actors:
Sidikou said he had personally raised concerns about the role of State violence with his Government interlocutors and had worked with the diplomatic community and civil society to build bridges between the parties. He also liaised closely with the Government on confidence-building measures to encourage dialogue, notably through the release of political prisoners and allowing media to operate without constraints.
The opposition demand to lead a two-year transition and the majority desire for a seemingly endless extension of the current regime both lack legal and political foundation, argues the International Crisis Group. Insisting on them would only polarize opinion and make violence more likely. An agreement requires nuance, flexibility and the active buy-in of regional and continental actors that have sat on the sidelines too long.
Human Rights Watch distributed the following message to European Union Member States in advance of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting on October 17:
We are writing to share with you Human Rights Watch’s latest research on the Democratic Republic of Congo and to urge you to support strong measures, including the application of targeted sanctions, in the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Congo, due to be adopted on October 17. Taking action now could help prevent the situation in Congo from spiraling out of control in the coming weeks – with potentially violent and widespread repercussions across the region.
The Strengthening Democracy in Africa: Building a New Generation of Democratic Leaders took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on September 13-16, 2016. With the support of the National Endowment for Democracy and the World Movement for Democracy, it brought together 75 emerging leaders of African democracy movements to discuss the roles of civil society and political parties in building and sustaining democratic movements that influence policy making and institutional reforms (see above).