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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bleak choices for the path ahead in the Congo

Congolese politics, usually full of fire and scandal, seem devoid of hope these days. The presidential and legislative elections were both so badly botched that it is apparently impossible to figure out who won what. And yet, there is little hope of any far-reaching solution. The donors are divided, with the United States "deeply disappointed", the Belgians wanly congratulatory, and the South Africans outright buoyant. In the meantime, the opposition has not been able to mobilize any significant protests, largely because they are arrested/beaten/tear-gassed. While the Catholic church has announced a major demonstration on February 16 - the twenty-year anniversary of the "March of Christians" of 1992 - it is unclear whether kinois still have the capacity to mobilize on a large scale.

The latest sign of this despondency is an initiative reportedly mooted by Washington in recent days: a power-sharing agreement. According to various sources in the opposition and US government, the proposal that has been put forward in the past several weeks would have the opposition sharing power with Kabila, either by forming government under a UDPS prime minister, or by getting a fair share of ministerial positions. The only problem is: neither Tshisekedi or Kabila seem to be interested (Kamerhe and Kengo have apparently expressed interest).

It is difficult to see how such a power-sharing deal could be pushed through, given the divisions among the donors and Kabila's opposition (he is having hard enough a time managing the quarrels within his coalition without giving half the cabinet positions to the enemy camp). Nor is it clear whether this would make right the glaring flaws of elections; one could argue the opposite, that it could undermine the creation of a strong opposition and just postpone the troubles for a couple of years - the consensus among many Africans is that neither Kenya nor Zimbabwe have been great successes, and that Cote d'Ivoire managed to dodge a bullet by avoiding a power-sharing deal. 

But for those who would immediately cry foul, let's consider the options. They aren't pretty:
  • Declare the elections null and void and hold new polls. In an ideal world, this is probably what should be done. Both legislative and presidential elections were deeply flawed and, except for electoral districts where there is little doubt which MPs won, should probably just be reheld. This could be done at the same time as provincial and local elections, currently scheduled for March but which will almost certainly have to be pushed back to August or September due to delays. But the larger question is: Would Kabila accept this solution? Of course not. And donors, who could apply financial pressure, face a serious collective action problem. None of them seem in the slightest interested in this option. So should we pursue this path, even though it appears hopeless, just out of principle? Advocates of this path are hoping that the demonstration on February 16 will provide traction.
  • Recount the ballots. Again, Kabila would almost certainly oppose this. But even if he didn't, too many ballots have gone missed or have been tampered with to make this a feasible solution. Also, it wouldn't deal with the fact that many people didn't vote, voter lists may have been flawed, and there wee other abuses before the polls took place.
  • Give up on the presidential polls and try to salvage the legislative elections, as well as the subsequent polls. A few weeks ago, this seemed to be the approach. Ok, so the presidential polls were a debacle, but perhaps we can save the legislative ones - American election experts arrived and the CENI suggested they were stopping compilation. However, now CENI has indefinitely postponed announcing the results, the foreign experts have departed, saying they weren't able to observe or contribute in a meaningful manner, and many of the legislative ballots have been compromised by weeks of storage in unprotected warehouses and compilation centers. So how can the legislative elections be "saved?" It's unclear, at least to me. As for the following polls, the donors I have spoken with do seem to agree that there have to be changes to the CENI before they continue to fund the rest of the election cycle; many would like to see Mulunda Ngoy resign. I have also heard some say that they want to use the election fiasco to get leverage on Kabila: "we'll let you off this time, but now carry out the reforms you have been promising (justice, security sector, etc.) or we will cut aid."
  • Do nothing. Nobody will say this, but it is a possibility. But consider this scenario: Kabila manages to get his coalition to agree on a distribution of seats in parliament and imposes himself over the divided opposition. His coalition forms a majority in parliament, forms a government and makes some key concessions (governance reforms, bringing in opposition parties, reforming CENI). Already, the moderates around Kabila seem very sensible, ignoring Tshisekedi's calls for an army mutiny. What will donors do then? Prevent the consolidation of democracy and not fund the rest of the elections? Withdraw aid and punish the Congolese people?

Which brings us back to the power-sharing deal. If these reports are true, the Americans should be applauded for at least not just giving up (which is apparently what the Belgians have done) and accepting the botched polls. But will it work?

31 comments:

Rich said...

Jason -

A great piece as always!

I tend to think the American approach is more realistic than the others. As for the Belgian, I personally do not see it as giving up.

To me, the American approach can work but the biggest problem is tshisekedi. The man has shown a tremendous ability to both claim one thing and its opposite and I wonder what the American will do if ever after agreeing on things, he flips again and start claiming the opposite of what he agreed upon earlier? From this point, I think this is where the Belgian approach seems to be, because they may have guessed and anticipated tshisekedi's nth change of mind and prefer to go straight to the point rather than risking to accommodate him one day then see him change his mind the next day hence having to restart the whole process from scratch again and again and again...

I say this not because I, personally, do not rate tshisekedi as a reliable actor in solving Congolese urgent problems, but recent history is full of cases where tshisekedi has been letting everyone down again and again...

In my opinion, those willing to help mediating things, should think about finding a third way between J Kabila and tshisekedi; i.e. finding a sort of ‘moderate’ opposition get it involved to fix the upcoming limbo. This was done in the 1990s when mobutu and tshisekedi could not agree, Nguz a Karl I Bond became prime minister, we already saw and increasing involvement of the civil society etc… then, on a different occasion the same thing happened and Kengo became Prime Minister Etc... I know these are not perfect examples but they can give, at least, an idea as to how to go round J Kabila and tshisekedi almost mutual and personal bitterness that is more likely to condemn innocent Congolese (especially in Kinshasa).

Ref # "But will it work?"

A third way between J Kabila and tshisekedi will help smooth out the biterness that is preventing the two side to come in the middle to help this country. People must remember this is all about consolidating peace and helping the country it should not be a personal game where biterness is the underlying motivation to completely outplay the person you 'legitimately' hate the most or do not agree with.

Rich

blaise said...

I don't know, the american's idea looks like an awful one. We already had too many of those power sharing and I tend to think they were big fiasco. One of the problems is to have the UDPS to compromise somehow. But again, it's past an UDPs problem with all those frauds, beating, killings.
I believe an inclusive dialogue had to be organize to find an exit strategy. Kabila is president, that's a done deal, only a coup can change the dynamic.
What he may have to do will be redeem himself, get back to Kabila 2001:
- give back the power to the people
- amend the constitution to empower the provinces again
Tshisekedi should see advantages to exercise power through his provincial's governors if he can get the UDPS win the upcoming provincials.

Anonymous said...

EVH wrote

Your third way, Rich (hm) has NOTHING to do with helping this country (which clearly isn't yours) nor with consolidating local peace, but EVERYTHING with maintaining EASY STEALING of Congolese property by US and other foreign so-called investors (better call them brutal thiefs, keeping up their much too luxurious way of life in their longtime bankrupt societies by stealing from the Congolese people".

And both, Rich and Jason, the only thing that really matters politically, TODAY, is "let the Congolese people install their self-choosen Congolese president", yes Tshisekedi, everyone knows he won, not a fake one, not a proven murderer, not a sick but dying dictator, and if anyone doubts that Tshitshi won or didn't win the elections, let him keep his promises by organising those new elections as soon as Congolese voters have been registered.

And let us take K(anambe-abila) to join Bemba at the International Criminal Court so that Fatou can finally start doing what her predecessor never did.

Finally, i pray that Ban Ki-Moon finds the courage of ending the failed mission of Monusco, who - admit - never helped nor protected any Congolese people, but only served the interest of the Richest Economies and their "investors".

To you, Jason,
i would like to appreciate your work, i really do, but
i have to admit
without my Omeprazole most of your RDC-approaches are not digestable.

I wish you a clearer, opener mind 'in favor of those who really need a voice', a voice you could become, maybe, one day

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason, i join those who say that your piece is interesting. Although again i do have the impression that in your analysis the neighbours of the drc are overlooked concerning their influence and of course those who are backing them.
What about Angola? and of course about Rwanda/Uganda who are indeed military involved in the eastern drc. Does the rapprochement between M7 and Kagame now means that the they have conveined about the drc-agenda or is it the hand of the USA? Regime change in the DRC will mean people not wanting this military occupation (cfr reaction Kamerehe)of rwda and ugda; so what is your opinion about that? thanks

Anand said...

Very interesting post Jason.

What's the point of pushing for power sharing if neither Kabila nor Tshisekedi are interested? It seems it would take a bit of diplomatic muscle to convince them, muscle that the US seems unwilling to flex. Who in the US is talking about a power sharing deal? Is it an official position? All of the official chatter I've read is the normal, "we're deeply disappointed" crap. I just don't see the US creating enough push for anything to happen. The focus in the US is on presidential elections. The foreign focus in the US is on Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, Iran, etc. Not Congo. Obama didn't even mention Sub Saharan Africa in his State of the Union. What has the typical US response been? "Oh there's a lot of rape in DRC? Well here's 17 million dollars..." That was Clinton's big "commitment". The US response has always been sadly understated. I think Jason's last scenario is the most likely. Kabila has proven himself very adept at politicking his way out of tricky spots recently. Within circles of DRC advocacy, the issues are huge and immediate, but for the US, the DRC is hardly even on the agenda. Belgium's Prime Minister all but endorsed the elections. Although (through a lot of hard work) a lot of advancement has been made in bringing attention to the DRC in the last 10 years, it is still doesn't resonate in the west that loudly. I hate to say it, but I don't see western powers doing much of anything.

Jason Stearns said...

@Anon 5:55am: Yes, I didn't mention the neighbors (as well as many other issues). In part, that's because I don't think they matter much in this post-election saga - all of them have pretty much backed Kabila, either explicitly or implicitly. The only country that might make a difference is Angola, and they seem to be taking a back seat for now, after having suggested early on in the election campaign that they were looking at options to Kabila (that faded away once Kinshasa said they were postponing arbitration on offshore oil).

Rich said...

Jason -

Ref # "The only country that might make a difference is Angola..."

Angola and South Africa have a similar position on this. On 13th december 2011, Dos Santos sent a special envoy (Manuel Domingos Augusto) to congratulate the 'Congolese' through J Kabila for the elections. This was done in the name of SADC when CENI published the provisional results, all this before even waiting for the CSJ to publish the final results!

The problem with the opposition is they seem unable to make friends. This is something they may need to consider when they plan to update some of their skills in.

Rich

Anonymous said...

The last option, "DO NOTHING" or the "MYMAR/BIRMANY REPUBLIC option" looks more and more probable from the donors stand point. It is a callous one. Bt the "LET THE REGIME CRUMBLE FROM ITS OWN CORRUPT AND INNEFFECTIVE WAY" option would give the donors a way out and face saving sortie. Kabila Administration would get no more or less what it has been received before, aid would be reviewed to a minimum level while a strict monitoring of governance would be implemented. Unfortunately Congolese People would see a further degradation of its already diminished lot. This option HAS WORKED in MYAMAR to a point where the entrenched military dictatorship has finally relented but the people paid UNBELIEVABLE PRICE...Wit and see.

-Xebo

andrea.trevisan said...

Thanks for your great analysis Jason and thanks to Rich and others that commented because they raised very interesting points.

I agree with Rich when he says that Tsishekedi is the problem. I think he really is, he wasted an opportunity in 2006, he continously change his discour, he is not reliable at this stage of the state-building process. Like Blaise said much better if he can find more chance at provincial level.

The questions of neighbours: in my opinion this is more crucial: whoever else than Kabila can handle the delicate balance between DRC and its neighbours on the eastern border? Can Tsishekedi handle Bosco Ntaganda? and the problem of FDLR? OK Kabila isn't doing much on that but he is the one that in one way or the other tempered the situation till the actual state.

I think now is almost too late to subvert too much the situation. Personally I'll go for:
1. resignation of Ngoy Mulunda, recall of international experts
2. recounting of legislative elections; flawed or not at least they might look more legitimate without Mulunda and can maybe lead at a slight more balanced result
3. international pressure on Kabila to implement reforms, especially security sector, decentralisation (let's save next elections)
4. by the time of the next elections the situation for the neighbours would be slight different as Kagame would be close to go and I hope Burundi could have made it in the direction of stable and durable peace.

General idea is to save the next elections, pressuring Kabila for not changing the electoral law to have another mandate.

Rich said...

Andrea -

Thanks and I could not agree more with most of the points you made especially, the very last one.
"General idea is to save the next elections, pressuring Kabila for not changing the electoral law to have another mandate."

I think this is very important. We can only build from the existing institutional matrix, any idea of scrapping everything as tshisekedi seems poised to do, is more likely to send that country 30 years back with even far worse consequences.

For those interested, it is confirmed, tonight (26/01/12) CENI is finaly publishing provisional results for the remaining 234 seats topping up from the 266 seats already published. The CSJ will then have 8 days from tomorrow morning to receive any appeals.

I may be wrong but I have the feeling the CSJ will use this opportunity to shine.

Rich

Anonymous said...

@ Anand, When analyzing US foreign policy it is helpful to think like American policymakers who tend to view the world in terms of geopolitics. Thus during the Cold War they thought in terms of a horizontal "wall" of containment that extended from Monrovia to Mombasa. Congo was central to the overarching goal of keeping the Soviet Union from penetrating this wall of containment (Angola became an obsession to the US when the Soviets did an end run around it).
After the Cold War the US began to think in terms of a vertical axis extending from Cairo to the Cape - particularly after the establishment of democracy in South Africa. Washington turned to M7 and Kagame because American policymakers had lost confidence in Mobutu, given his inability to adapt to a new world. The immediate goal was to isolate Khartoum; the longer term objective has been to promote democratic governance as a means to geopolitical stability.
Congo remains central to this goal. The Obama Administration took a gamble by supporting democratization in Egypt...nobody knows how that will turn out. In Congo the Americans want both democratic governance and stability...the fear is the result will be neither. It would be a mistake to assume that Congo is not a priority for American policymakers. Today Sino-American competition has replaced Soviet-American Cold War rivalry in Congo; however, the nature of this competition is fundamentally different - it is not a direct nuclear confrontation. In terms of ideology Beijing is betting that "noninterference" in domestic politics will give it an edge; Washington believes that support for democratization is consistent with the sweeping tide of history. There are arguments to be made for both points of view and so far Kabila has been pretty adept at grasping the geopolitical reality. To some extent the Obama Administration has been less sure of itself...but that is not the same thing as being disengaged.

Anand said...

@Anon 11:48am - Thanks for the thoughtful response. It is hard for me to reconcile your points with the realities that I see in US policy and engagement with Congo, or lack there of. You've made an argument based on generalities and a philosophical view you see the US government operating from. But, I don't see any evidence of meaningful engagement with the DRC from the US, in practical terms. The US hasn't been particularly engaged in the elections this time around and Clinton took her time in issuing any statement at all. Regarding Sino-American politicking, I'm not even convinced that the US is fully aware of the fact that China has been making inroads into the DRC for some years now, or what the possible ramifications are. I don't doubt that geopolitics plays a huge role in US foreign policy, but I think a huge factor today is economics. It doesn't seem that the US perceives huge economic or security ramifications based on what happens in Congo. That may be a misguided position for many reasons, but that's what current "policy" indicates, as far as I can tell. Maybe you could highlight some specific points of engagement so I better understand your position.

Anonymous said...

I think it is laughable to read some people claim that Tshisekedi is the problem. Indeed he is erractic in his declaration BUT he has been steadfast in his demand for DEMOCRACY and RULE of LAW, on this matter he has never flipped flopped and he has the support of the people. I also can't help but shake my head when some claim to force Kabila to do some reforms.... the dude has been in power for 11 years, how come he has not done the necessary reforms? There are only 2 possible answers: either he does not want to do it OR he doesn't even know the country needs reforms.
Kabila as president is responsible for the mismanagement of the whole process, he is slow to make decisions and him and his parliament PROCRASTINATED for unknown reasons to get CENI up and running. Yes Mulunda should resign, but lets not lose sight who is ultimately responsible for this FIASCO. It is the president and his inability to make decisions, he is a puppet nothing more.

Anonymous said...

This article only considers what donors want for the DRC, while it disregards the democratic needs of the Congolese population.

Rich said...

Provisional results:

Kabila's PPRD got 58 of the 432 seats counted so far in the 500-seat parliament. In 2006, PPRD won 111 seats.

UDPS comes second with 34 seats. UDPS boycotted the 2006 polls, and its leader has declared the November 28 elections as void... Will all of the 34 UDPS elected MP agree with thisekedi's decision to annul the 28 November parliamentary elections? Did tshisekedi consult with the party's base before taking this decision?

Among parties allied to the PPRD and Kabila, four have obtained between a dozen and over twenty parliamentary seats, but in the opposition camp only two parties achieved such numbers so far.

CENI is expected to unveil the remaining figures on Monday next week ...

In total, almost 19,000 candidates competed at the polls for 500 seats.

Last night the CENI announced it had sought the annulation of elections in seven of the 169 voting districts due to incidents of violence or other interference. It went on to say, it would also recommend the prosecution of about 15 candidates accused of violence. Amongst them the current governor of Equateur (J C Baende)...

I guess things will be very interesting when appeal cases get to the CSJ.

Rich

Anonymous said...

The problem is not Tshisekedi but the situation you put him - and, by extension, the country- into. “You” here refers to Kabila and his supporters who perpetrated the electoral hold-up, as well as the so-called “international community” who condoned it. Nearly everybody has betrayed the Congolese people. If you’re on the lookout for ET’s “inconsistencies”, you’re going to be more than well served in the coming weeks. The thing is ET warned that should victory be stolen from him, he would render the country “ungovernable”. Whether this is a good thing for the country or not seems so difficult for me to tell for the time being that I’d like to be allowed to duck this issue for the moment. But the bottom line is we’ll certainly see not more of ET’s resolve to ‘govern’ by opposition but to oppose Kabila by ‘governing’. Tshisekedi may be a good strategist, but hardly a good tactician because of a fundamental problem of his which I keep on pointing out to his advisers (two of his closest advisers are good friends of mine): his inability to espouse “binary thinking” which is so critical in nowadays politicking. In fact, ET seems unable to “save him from himself”, i.e. extricate himself from dead-ends because he usually has no “Plan B”s. But at the same time, he’s often very lucky, as his opponents usually end up either “saving” him by making the blunder of …jailing him, or finding themselves coming to a dead-end. Mobutu, Mzee Kabila made those mistakes at some critical junctures. Let’s see for how long J. Kabila will remain smarter.

Bruno

PRACTIC said...

Great pictures, great story, great work in here, GREAT BLOG, with all my respect Robert from Romania !!!

Anonymous said...

@Anand, Yes, I was outlining US foreign policy in broadly general terms based on the structural realist (neorealism) and neoliberal institutionalist theories of international relations that inform the worldview of American policymakers. I am a social constructivist in terms of IR theory, so I was enagaging in an intellectual exercise rather than presenting my own perspective. I agree that economic considerations have always been a critical determinant of US foreign policy...now more than ever as both China and the US view Congo's resources as strategically important. On the one hand, the US isn't trying to block Chinese access to Congolese minerals given the interdependent nature of American and Chinese economies; on the other hand, the US did exert pressure through the IMF to scale down China's mineral deal with the Congolese government.
Kabila's skill at triangulating between the US and China has constrained American leverage...there are both positive and negative ramifications to that. Yes, Secretary Clinton was slow to speak out on the Congolese elections, just as the Obama Administration was slow to respond to events in Egypt; evidence I think of uncertainty rather than lack of engagement. US foreign policy tends to favor continuity, which is an inherent part of the culture at the state department; when policymakers are forced by circumstance to break with the past they tend to be slow off the mark. I am certainly not privy to what is going on behind the scenes in DC, but the proposed US plan mentioned on this blog looks a lot like the plan the Johnson Administration tried to broker in 1965...and it faces the same obstacles in that the the personalities involved won't agree to it.

andrea.trevisan said...

@ anonymous
always on tsishekedi: I think that rather than missing a Plan B he missed the plan A. Wouldn't have been better to have joined forces with other opposants, especially Kamerhe? Everybody knew what would have happened during the elections with use of force and fraudes from the government side but why not being more prepared?
I think that standing alone after his drop-out in 2006 simply was meaningless and a sign of a clear lack of vision.

A coalition could have resisted fraudes with much more legitimacy, having more popular support and in my opinion more attention from international donors.

A coalition could have represented a much softer transition to democracy and could have allowed a more gradual process of reforms.

I see difficult that Tsishekedi's protest can reach the critical mass to subvert the situation and making the country ungovernable is simply useless and can only produce more harm at the congolese people.
Similarly I do not think that he can rally many simpathy from the security forces. It would be enough for JK to make wise use of money to buy dissidents in the sector.

If Tsishekedi wants to be useful at the congolese people I think he should do an intelligent opposition and challenging the government on a number of subjects while building a solid political structure/program/support for the next elections.
Bringing people into the streets as such doesn't make DRC a better country;

I personally appreciate a number of aspects of Tsishekedi himself but not at all his political attitude which strongly undermines his legitimacy as strong leader.

On reforms from JK: in my opinion JK simply DO NOT WANT implement too many reforms at this stage and thinking twice he maybe CAN'T otherwise the oligarchy on which his feud is built upon risks to leave him. Once again a more legitimated government could have handled the subject with less difficulty.

and finally on the anonymous that commented that the article reflect only the interests of donors: maybe but we all know that holding transparent election is not a sign itself of democracy and that state-building (and nation-building) are sometimes a price worth to pay.

If the opposition can understand this we are already at more than half of the job done

Rich said...

Ref # “The problem is not Tshisekedi but the situation you put him - and, by extension, the country- into. “You” here refers to Kabila and his supporters who perpetrated the electoral hold-up, as well as the so-called “international community” who condoned it.”

Let’s try the following,

The problem is not Kabila but the situation you put him - and, by extension, the country- into. “You” here refers to tshisekedi/the opposition and his/their supporters who perpetrated the electoral hold-up (auto-proclaiming oneself the head of state, use inflammatory or xenophobic discourse that undermined the electoral process from the start). The so-called “international community” failed to even mention any of tshisekedi abuses in their election related reports.

Not all Congolese perceive tshisekedi as a messiah who somehow deserves special conditions/context in which to exercise his ‘true’ political talents. For this reason, all political actors need to have some level of flexibility. Otherwise we will spend our most valuable time and energy trying to accommodate certain egos while the Congolese are in desperate for solutions and not troubles.

I've just heard, after failing to get to Palais de la Nation yesterday, tshisekedi has now called on the Congolese to start a general strike from Monday 30 Jan 2012 until further notice...

I am still waiting to see his first decret law nomminating his government as announced the day he officially took office...

Jason -

Re: elex. Le petit trainne encore les pieds mais ca reste une affaire a suivre absolument...

Rich

Anonymous said...

Why do you hate Tshisekedi this much, Jason.

Allow the Congolese people to welcome and install their chosen one, give him their credit, and PLEASE mind your own white man's business.

evh said

Anonymous said...

I find it absolutely appalling that some here would find it perfectly normal that the International Community chooses who gets to run that country while ignoring the will of the Congolese people. The same neocolonialistic, self-sufficient "experts" are trying to make it sound normal that Kabila gets to run the country again despite his catastrophic tenure, not to mention that he and his sidekicks cheated. Tshisekedi is far from perfect but allowing a cheater and very mediocre candidate to hold on to power is beyond cynical.
@Jason, please tell me you don't seriously think that the Congolese population actually benefits from any international aid...Seriously???
Lusamba

Anonymous said...

Here is a saying ina Swahili "Bora fisi alieshiba kuliko mwenye njaa" - "Better with a full hyena than a hungry one"
It always comes up when there are elections in Africa.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon Jan 27, 12:54 PM

Your far-fetched suggestion that Tshisekedi could have won the election only if he had joined forces with Kamerhe, Kengo, Kashala, Mbusa Nyamwisi, Kakese , etc. is laughably naïve at best, or sheer hypocrisy, at worst . That’s the mantra Kabilists have been singing these days: the Opposition did not – and could not- win because they were not united.

Seriously! Do you think Kabila was joking when, during his third press conference in 5 years, he stated “United or not, the Opposition will fail”? Do you think the shameful fraud and irregularities (ballot stuffing, ghost voting stations, ballot papers missing candidate n°11 given to the voters in some places, 2 million duplicates, 3 million voting by “derogation”, etc.) would have not occurred simply because 9 candidates’d decided to support one?

Or having a single Opposition candidate would convinced CENI to allow observers and witnesses to having access at all compilation centers and publish their results immediately after the tabulation process was over? Are you sure 1,375,000 votes (by Mulunda’s confession himself) would have not been lost simply because of the unity of the Opposition?
Could the unity of the opposition have deterred Kabila from appointing judges at the Supreme Court halfway into the electoral campaign? Would have the State-owned media RTNC given Kabila less than 86% and Tshisekedi more than 1% of air time, just because of a common front of the opposition? Would have that secured the neutrality of the Government agencies such as CSAC (media authority), the ANR (intellegince service) and the Republican Guard? Prevented them from interfering in the electoral process in favour of the incumbent president as they did? Refrained them from suspending the SMS services (just because that was the means, for political parties, NGOs and the Catholic Churc, of collecting early returns of the vote) and cutting off without any reason the signal of pro-Opposition TV stations on 29th November 2011?

Come on, do you think that had ET had the backing of other opposition candidates, New York Times reporter Gettleman would have released , on 2 December 2011, a different news headline other than “Firebrand Attracts Votes in Congo, Dismaying West” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/world/africa/in-congo-tshisekedis-strong-showing-raises-concerns.html?_r=2)
The opening sentence of the article read: (quote) “Could Étienne Tshisekedi, a 78-year-old career rabble-rouser who is immensely popular in the streets of his country but DEFINITELY UNPOPULAR INSIDE WESTERN EMBASSIES, actually win the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo?” (unquote; emphasis added)

Let’s face it: the West’s anti-Tshisekedi bias did not help most commentators, so-called experts realize, recognize that ET actually was a strong candidate. Most of them were signing the “easy Kabila win” song, doing everything to lower ET’s political importance. Why? The aforementioned New York Times article got it home to the point: “Few Western diplomats predict Mr. Tshisekedi will win, and many of them have been hoping against it.” Let me correct: MOST have been hoping against it!

Now, when you state that “I think that standing alone after his drop-out in 2006 simply was meaningless and a sign of a clear lack of vision”, I’m tempted to conclude you know only a smattering of DRC politics. For examples, these four dates, 14 August 1992, 17 December 1996, 2 June 2004 and 2 April 2005, may mean nothing to you because you might be incompetent to discern the political weight of the man you’re talking about, as well as his political philosophy centered around the belief that his credibility/relevance vis-à-vis the Congolese people depended on maintaining through thick and thin what I would call “political virginity”.

(to be continued)

Bruno

Anonymous said...

Had Tshisekedi been interested in just being in power, he would have ended up like Gizenga. What you call “a clear lack of vision” by not associating with Kengo and Kamerhe, is actually a determination that this 30 years of fight for democracy and rule of law, although it’s uphill all the way, will ring true in the hearts of most Congolese.

This what Jason Stearns, quoted in that article, in part referred to when he said “it is hard to know how much better Mr. Tshisekedi would do than Mr. Kabila at managing beleaguered Congo, which has never really recovered from the rebellion in the 1990s. But, Mr. Tshisekedi “hasn’t really been bought off” and his anti-corruption stance seems solid”. Let me put it squarely this way: for as long as Tshisekedi will be viewed by the Congolese, his friends and foes alike, as the only Congolese politician who will NEVER steal from public coffers or allow that to happen, HE will remain credible vis-à-vis the Congolese masses, regardless of what the Western and Congolese elite think of him, of his imperfections and mistakes.

@ Rich

You play with words like this: “The problem is not Kabila but the situation you put him - and, by extension, the country- into. “You” here refers to tshisekedi/the opposition and his/their supporters who perpetrated the electoral hold-up (auto-proclaiming oneself the head of state, use inflammatory or xenophobic discourse that undermined the electoral process from the start). The so-called “international community” failed to even mention any of tshisekedi abuses in their election related reports.”

Rich, it’s sad to said you could regrettably be referred to as Doctor es Red Herring. How could “auto-proclaiming oneself the head of state, use inflammatory or xenophobic discourse that undermined the electoral process from the start” ever become an “electoral hold-up” on the part of Tshisekedi and his supporters. Tell me how Tshisekedi’s interview on 6th November 2011 UNDERMINED the electoral process. Calling Kabila a “Rwandan”, if that’s what you call xenophobic, how did that UNDERMINE the process?

(to be continued)

Bruno

Anonymous said...

Now, please open the 2011 electoral law, if you have one at your disposal, go to page 11, Article 36, you read that any candidate using public resources for electioneering will be disqualified forthwith. Kabila did it in plain view, he was not punished: did not UNDERMINE the process? Again, let dance tango with the law: please again go to page 18 Article 81: anybody preventing a candidate from campaigning during the official campaign period will be punished/fined. You know the actions of the Kabila clique on Saturday, 26th November 2011, when Tshisekedi was locked in at the N’djili airport, as his rally was cancelled in violation of the law. Did those actions not UNDERMINE the electoral process?

You claim that the “international community failed to even mention any of tshisekedi abuses in their election related reports”. Was it not enough that Tshisekedi 6 November 2011 drew universal condemnation from the Governments of Belgium, France, UK and USA as well as from the AU, EU, MONUSCO, the UN Security Council, and the International Criminal Court, to name but those few? For the same “international community” that was conspicuously silent when Kabila, on 21 August 2006, was shelling his opponent’s residence at the very time the latter was receiving 14 Ambassadors as well as the head of Monuc, for that community to lambast “violence-inciting” statements while keeping quiet in every bit of tongue when it comes to actual violence (by Kabila), one should be “negatively courageous”.

Rich, Tshisekedi is not your “messiah”. Amen! I guess the reason why you used that emotionally-charged word from the religious realm was to prompt an instinctive feeling of repulsion against the subject. The same kind of reaction whenever the phrase “cult of personality” is used. Rest assured, though, that you won’t be the only who have compelling reasons to admire someone you deeply hate. Winston Churchill wrote this of Charles de Gaulle, “There is not a scrap of generosity about this man, who only wishes to pose as the saviour of France in this operation…he is a wrong-headed, ambitious and detestable Anglo-phobe”. He later reflected "I knew he was no friend of England, but I understood and admired, even while I resented his arrogant demeanor".

Mind you, both de Gaulle and Churchill were also simple human beings like you and me and Tshisekedi but were/are still regarded as near “messiahs” by their respective peoples.

Bruno

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bruno for this well written post.
Some people have a hatred for ET and are on a mission to discredit him no matter what. They are unable to use their intellect to think past that hatred. I have always wanted to know what caused that hatred, is it an inferiority complex, tribalism, lack of intellectual honesty or simply put, they just don’t like the guy. It will be better then for them to just come out and say so.
I will agree completely with your points. No unity of the opposition will have prevented the frauds (the whole electoral process was controlled by JK and his cronies). How does claiming to be head of state undermine the electoral process while the whole process is controlled by JK’s and his cronies? JK came from Rwanda in 1997 with the AFDL, true or not, so when people say send him back to Rwanda, it is where he physically came from in 1997. It is not xenophobia; it is simply stating a fact and a simple truth. May be the person who used the verb “to undermine” (to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth) does not know the meaning of this word/verb. Can he tell us who had the capabilities to attempt to subvert the electoral process? JK succeeded in the fraud (subvert) but the stealth part was a disaster. They got caught with the hand in the cookie Jar. The elections of November 2011 in the DRC were a disgrace, a slap in the face of Congolese and their friends, in the world. There are so many examples of fraudulent activities that I can not, at this stage, after everything that we know, understand people who are blaming ET for undermining the electoral process, I am sorry to say that it is simply a lack of intellectual honesty. The question is were there fraudulent activities by JK and is cronies that affected the outcome of the votes or not, if the answer is yes, who was behind it, certainly not ET (he did not control the process). We need to stick to the truth of the ballot as the Catholic Bishops of the DRC have said; the truth resides in exposing the fraudulent activities that undermined the electoral process. It is not ET claiming to be president or saying go back to Rwanda that lead to the electoral hold up.
Again, “respect” to Bruno.

Bismark

Rich said...

Bismark -

Ref # "Some people have a hatred for ET and are on a mission to discredit him no matter what..."

If this referred to my last comment, do you really think Doctor Etienne Tshisekedi Wa-Mulumba needs my help to promote his discredit?

By the way, did you observe his call for a general strike? I did, but I had to give up in end since many Congolese simply do not take what the man says or does that seriousely...

I know people are trying to be polite here but let me just finish by saying, it was my first time ever to hear an 'elected' president calling his own fellow countrymen/women for a national strike until told otherwise... QUITE INCREDIBLE REALLY.

I cannot wait to see the list of his government as well as his first decree law ...

Rich

Anonymous said...

@Rich
“Auto-proclaiming oneself the head of state, use of inflammatory or xenophobic discourse that undermined the electoral process from the start”. This statement was made about ET, is this statement to his credit (positive) or to his discredit (negative). I see a statement that helps to promote his discredit as I fail to see how claiming to be head of state can undermine the electoral process as I explained in my previous post. ET did not set up, control and nor run this electoral process to be able to attempt to subvert it by stealth.
Some serious points, questions were raised by Bruno and myself in our recent posts, I wish you would have addressed them in order to enlighten us all.
The fact that the call for a general strike was not heeded in Kinshasa for example, does not change the fact of hard reality of the Congolese daily life. The Congolese lives in a mess created by JK and his cronies over the past 11 years. Finding food for survival is a daily struggle. See article” For Congo children, food today means none tomorrow” in the New York Times by Adam NOSSITER on January 2nd, 2012.The vast majority of Congolese spends a lot of energy daily to find food. The cities are under siege by the security forces that have been beating freely on Congolese citizens who try to express their frustration with a corrupt and decadent system. I believe that these factors had more to do with the lack of enthusiasm for the general strike than anything else. The day the repression by the goons of JK is remove, we will be in a better position to assess the Congolese response to a call of this nature.
There are quite a lot of incredible situations in the DRC like all the bad statistics from the UN and other international entities, like the increased incidence of Cholera and Leprosy( diseases supposed to be under control), like the 32 million dollars paid to the SNEL by Congo Brazzaville that disappeared in JK’s cronies hands, like the loss of more than 1,300,000 ballots in an election that does not affect the end results of the said election, like military officers from neighboring countries who by the power of a magic wand become FARDC officers and control all the North East of the country with the help of the status quo. The list can go on and on and on. These are some of the facts that compromise the integrity of the DRC as a nation in my eyes not what ET says.

Bismark

Rich said...

Bismark -

You've raised some very interesting points and I must confess that I do agree with most. To be fair, I'd rather draw a much bigger picture of where this country comes from, where it is now and where it is likely to go or should go. All that said, judging from tshisekedi's unproductive political career, I, personally, wouldn't trust him to resolve some of the interesting points you've raised here. Just a thought ...

On a serious note, I heard some newly 'elected' udps MPs are more likely to go to Lingwala (Palais du Peuple) rather than follow tshisekedi's call to scrap the legislative and legislate from 10th Rue Limete (Petunias). I cannot wait to see udps MPs in the parliament since this was long overdue...

Rich

Anonymous said...

To Rich,
The only country that will profit for this statu quo is Rwanda and you seem to support that. So, reveal yourself to us. Who are you ?

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