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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid