News / Africa

Activists, Analysts Express Frustration at US Congo Policy

Nico Colombant

Activists and analysts who closely follow U.S. policy toward the Democratic Republic of Congo are expressing frustration with President Barack Obama's administration in the wake of a controversial presidential vote in the DRC.

The U.S. State Department has expressed deep disappointment as the Democratic Republic of Congo's Supreme Court upheld results from November's election without fully evaluating irregularities.

The same expression of "deep disappointment" is being used by activists and analysts who say the Obama administration is not going far enough in condemning the new mandate of President Joseph Kabila.  The 40-year-old was sworn in last week after weeks of post-election tensions and deadly street violence.

A Congolese protester at a recent White House rally, Patrick Mubobo, says he feels Mr. Obama is not practicing what he preached during his landmark Africa policy speech in Ghana in 2009.

"He said in Ghana that Africa does not need strong people. Africa needs strong institutions, that is his word.  I am quoting him from his speech in Ghana. He needs to respect that. When you are talking about democracy, you have to do democracy and be democratic," Mubobo said.

Mubobo alleges the United States is not pushing harder for an accurate election result because he believes the administration does not like his candidate of choice, second place finisher and former prime minister, Etienne Tshisekedi.

"They think that he is not going to be good for business but that is a total lie. They do not know him. They do not understand him," Mubobo said.

A Congo expert from Morehouse College in the southern state of Georgia, Laura Seay, says she agrees there may be preference from the United States and other donor nations toward Mr. Kabila, who has been president of the mineral-rich Congo since his father's assassination in 2001.

"I do think that to some extent the preference for (Mr.) Kabila that is a correct perception. Western diplomats in Kinshasa are bit uneasy with (Mr.) Kabila but he is sort of the guy they know and they can work with him, whereas (Mr.) Tshisekedi is perceived to be a bit of a wildcard and someone that they do not know whether or not they can rely on him.  But the U.S government certainly does not want to come off as endorsing electoral fraud," Seay said.

Congo's electoral commission has asked for outside help, including U.S. assistance, to tally votes in the parliamentary election which was also held in late November, but remains uncounted.

In terms of the presidential vote, observers from the U.S-based Carter Center said the process was too flawed to be considered credible.  They detailed impossibly high voter turnouts in some areas, as well as widespread and severe voter intimidation.  

But the recent statement from the State Department said it is still not clear whether irregularities were sufficient to change the outcome of the vote.

Another disappointed activist is Monique Beadle, from the U.S.-based Falling Whistles group, which strives for peace in the DRC.

"My biggest concern is the poor way the United States has responded to this crisis.  The response from the State Department has been tepid at best," Beadle said.

Beadle was initially disappointed when U.S. officials had little reaction to rule changes which made Congo's presidential vote a one-round contest, rather than having a possible run-off as in the past.  Mr. Kabila was credited with winning the November 28 election, but with less than 49 percent of the vote.

One positive development she notes is the recent appointment of a U.S. government special representative for the Great Lakes region, veteran Africa diplomat Barrie Walkley.

"We do not know exactly what he plans to accomplish but I hope that  this election crisis is going to be a priority of his and that he will pressure the government in Kinshasa to pursue really concrete measures to resolve this crisis and to respect the will of the Congolese people," Beadle said.

In terms of Congo's recent presidential election, Beadle is hoping for a revote or at least a full recount.

Earlier this year, a collective of civil society and human rights groups made a series of demands concerning U.S government action in the DRC. The first item was to help ensure free, fair and credible elections. Many activists now say that request has not been met.  

Other items which they feel the United States has fallen short on include helping efforts to protect civilians in the country's conflict-wracked east and north, increasing support for justice and security sector reform, and encouraging a demilitarization of the lucrative Congolese mining sector.

During remarks this month, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said the United States was the DRC's largest donor with a commitment of over $900 million for peacekeeping, humanitarian and development initiatives in the past fiscal year.  Many Congolese activists are now calling for some of this aid to be suspended until credible elections take place.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More