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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs