Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Elections Update

I have been posting irregularly over the past few weeks. Here are some stories you may have missed over the last week that relate to elections.

1. Attack on Lukolela: Compared to many incidents in the East, this attack seemed minor, but has a strongn symbolic value. According to Kinshasa, on October 6 an armed group attacked the fishing village of Lukolela, along the border with The Republic of Congo (ROC) around 500 km from the capital Kinshasa. Five of the attackers were arrested, allegedly carrying residency permits from the ROC and signed orders from General Faustin Munene, a dissident DR Congolese officer.

Immediately, the ROC government dismissed the claims as a set-up by the DRC government, saying "if those who are organizing the elections are not ready, they should say so, but they need to leave others out of this." Its minister of interior scoffed at the idea that the attackers had signed orders from General Munene, wondering how Munene could sign orders if he is in prison in their capital Brazzaville.

In response, Kinshasa sent a large delegation of 21 officials to Brazzaville to show them proof of the attack.

This back-and-forth comes to the backdrop of tense relations between the two countries. DRC officials have suggested that the armed men who attacked the presidential residence in February came from across the river, and Brazzaville has still not responded to an extradition request for DRC's two main western rebel leaders: General Munene and Udjani Mangbama. ROC President Sassou Nguesso visited Kinshasa in April to discuss these security issues with his counterpart, but no concrete steps have been taken to ameliorate relations.

2. Gizenga finally makes his move: Just days after his 86th birthday, Antoine Gizenga, former prime minister and the head of the PALU political party, declared his support for Joseph Kabila's candidacy. A declaration had been long awaited, as PALU had previously just said they would support the "party of the left." Gizenga made clear that Kabila had won that label, and that he was the only "Lumumbist" candidate in the running. None of these labels mean much to most Congolese, or they think they are window-dressing for political expediency.

The alliance is important, as Gizenga helped Kabila will over 60% of the vote in Bandundu province, where he is revered almost as a saint by many, in 2006. This time around, however, it may well be different, as PALU has held the prime ministry for the past five (first Gizenga, then Adolphe Muzito) and has not delivered much. Some doubt whether Gizenga has much appeal outside the elders of his Pende community.

3. Ethnic tensions rise in Fizi, South Kivu: On October 5, the jeep of the NGO Ebenezer was stopped by armed men close to Fizi. According to several sources, the soldiers seperated the passengers by ethnicity, putting the Banyamulenge to one side and shooting them, but sparing the others. Twelve Banyamulenge were reportedly killed in the incident. The attackers were allegedly members of the Mai-Mai Yakutumba, together with members of the Burundian FNL rebels. It was the FNL that claimed responsibility for the 2004 massacre of 152 Banyamulenge in the Gatumba refugee camp in Burundi.

Yakutumba has gleaned a certain popularity in the Fizi area for his opposition to the deployment of rwandophone officers (ex-CNDP and ex-PARECO) in the region. He is rumored to be preparing an endorsement of Etienne Tshisekedi.


Rich said...

Tshisekedi Vs Rwanda Vs Yakutumba!!! Not too sure...

Here is what tshisekedi said this week when asked about the relation between DRC and rwanda:

Let me also say that tshisekedi often referred to J Kabila as a rwandan who should be returned to rwanda... Many of his supporters have extremist and xenophobic views about rwanda.

Listen from min: 02:39


Amy Parker said...

In response to Jason's third story, it was my colleagues who were murdered in South Kivu. Please follow the links below to read more:
This is such a difficult and sad time for all of us - Congo has lost some of its most passionate and dedicated people.


Anand said...

@Amy - Thank you so much for posting the links. When I first read Jason's post, I have to admit that I failed to personalize the story of the attack, and I instead focused on the political angle. Your posts made me stop and focus on the humanity of the victims. I am so sorry for the loss of your colleagues, and I thank them for their brave and noble work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Anand. If anything good is to come out of this heinous act, it is that the world starts to notice the good that people can and are doing in this region and supports them fully.


Rich said...

Dear Amy,

I read your message with great sadness especially when I realise that those who are, despite the dangers, ready and willing to confront Congolese deep rooted problems are being cowardly removed so early in the process!

My sadness is even deeper when I realise that none of the so called candidates to bring the overdue change in the country is ready to stand up to those who being targetted simply for who they are be it vulnerable women, aid workers, journalists or the perceived ethnicity.

I have seen political leaders flirting with the idea of alienating those Congolese their fans perceive as rwandan, foreigners etc... This is so wrong and such leaders should not be given any credit or platform by those strugling to help that country. There will never be long lasting peace in Congo as long as some Congolese will, wrongly, consider themselves as more Congolese than others or as more in love with Congo than others...

Anonymous said...

If folks are interested, the SEC, which is holding a round table with stakeholders (industry, activists, etc) on Sec 1502 of Dodd Frank so as to clarify its rule on this section can be seen live here:

For international readers of this blog:

a) this is in English and is going to stop at 5pm ET (New York City time)
b)the SEC is the government agency tasked with executing the laws as it relates to companies that list shares on American's stock exchanges
c) a "rule" is the "how" in how a law is to be implemented and executed. So, if the US Congress pass a law saying everyone needs to wear red on Dr Martin Luther King Day, the "rule" of the agency tasked with carrying this out would specify things like what type of textile this must mean, the time in which one would need to wear it, how Americans would need to comply with it, etc. Rules have great power in American governance which is why this is all happening.
- From what I can tell, its just Enough and Global Witness here (where is Friends of the Congo??!!)

One final piece is that the SEC still wants public comments and you can email them at the email below. The SEC has translators for French and Swahilli from what an official told me yesterday so has no problem with, say, the Congolese emailing them comments and indeed welcomes it.

SEC Comment Email:

Anand said...

@Anonymous - Thanks for posting the link. I caught some of the round table. It was a little frustrating to watch. The part I saw was mostly company reps talking about what it would be hard to do, what's an unrealistic expectation, etc. I hope the rest was more productive. Lots of minutia about specifics of "back" tracing currently stored minerals etc. It seems like the Enough Project lingo (three Ts and Gold)permeated the discussion. I am not sure how I feel about that. I think Jason's take on the mineral issue is the most pragmatic I have heard. You don't want to ignore it, or the benefits of pursuing it, but you also don't want it to come to characterize the entire Congo conflict. Nor do you want Dodd Frank to create a false sense of solving the whole mineral issue.

Anonymous said...


Even after gizenga's support kabila never got close to 60% in Bandundu in 06, he went from 2.7%in the first round to 39.5%. Gizenga got 80.1% in round 1, Bemba had 9.7% and got 60.5% in the 2nd round.

Anonymous said...

You seem to make a fuss whenever a tutsi of congolese origin is killed even though around six million congolese from other ethnic groups have perished through the intervention of tutsi led armies from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Anonymous said...

The CNDP ( a tutsi led movement) is behind Kabila even though they have been held responsible of massacre and displacement of people in the Kivus and are still operating there up to date. I don't see why Yakutumba cannot also support Tshisekedi. Remember as long as you still judge people accross ethnic lines there won't be any change in the way the majority of congolese perceive Congolese of rwandan descent...

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