News / Africa

With Dueling Inaugurations, Political Showdown Looms in DRC

President of Democratic Republic of Congo  Joseph Kabila  (File)
President of Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila (File)
Nico Colombant

A showdown is looming in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi says he will swear himself him as president Friday, even though the controversially re-elected President Joseph Kabila began his new term in office Tuesday.

Despite many invitations, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was one of the few dignitaries at the presidential compound in Kinshasa Tuesday as Joseph Kabila took the oath of office for a new five-year term.

During his speech,  Kabila promised to safeguard national unity, create more jobs, build power plants, boost agricultural production and revise mining deals.

But, Friday, Tshisekedi says he will get sworn in at at his own inauguration ceremony at the capital's Stade des Martyrs - in English, the stadium of the martyrs. The former prime minister has called on heavily deployed security forces and confused civil servants to take orders from him.  Tshisekedi says he is the rightful winner of  the fraud-marred November presidential poll.

Official results placed him second, with about 32 percent of the vote to  Kabila's near 49 percent in the crowded one-round contest. Observers from the U.S-based Carter Center said the vote was so flawed it lacked credibility. Problems which were reported included impossibly high turnouts in some areas, ballot stuffing in others and chaotic vote counting overall.

Laura Seay, a U.S.-based Congo expert working on a book about the weakness of the Congolese government in the country's war-wracked east, is afraid of what might soon happen in the western capital Kinshasa.

"People have been prohibited from participating in most peaceful protests so when people are not able to protest peacefully, we know in other situations, often times, they feel they have no choice but to turn to violence," said Seay. "So that is the major concern right now is that you will see a turn to violence or a violent response by the government security forces."

Tshisekedi has also called for  Kabila's capture.  Despite such statements, Seay does not believe Kabila's government will arrest him now.

"They do know that he does have this strong base of support and that something like that would provoke Kinois [residents of Kinshasa] certainly and people in other parts of Congo to take to the streets and protest," she said.

With less than a third of votes counted from the parliamentary election which also took place in late November, Seay says there is still a possibility parties who support Tshisekedi could gain control of parliament and seek to have him return as prime minister.

Concerning the presidential poll, Seay would like to see what she calls a rapid technical review of the vote with credible international observers.

Monique Beadle, the advocacy director for a U.S. group promoting peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, called Falling Whistles, says she finds it very frustrating many Congolese no longer believe in the electoral process, after decades of authoritarian rule and conflict.

"They are talking about not participating in future elections, and really that is a huge step backward for the fledgling democracy that DRC is," said Beadle. "And we were hoping that these elections would make people really excited to participate in democracy."

Her organization had been working with the Congolese radio station Mutaani FM to monitor the vote process with text messages, but text messaging was shut down by all providers shortly after voting ended.

Beadle says election day accounts she received from parts of the eastern North Kivu province concerning Kabila supporters were very disturbing, and do not bode well for the coming days.

"They were pulling people from their homes, confiscating their voter registration cards, voting in their place, sometimes up to a dozen times," she said.

A U.S-based activist who does not believe Kabila won is Kambale Musavuli, the spokesman for the group "Friends of the Congo".  

Musavuli is helping organize protests this Friday outside the Democratic Republic of Congo, including Washington and New York, to coincide with Tshisekedi's planned action.

"There needs to be a respect for democracy in the Congo, for human rights and the will of the Congolese people, so this is a symbolic march and protest in solidarity with the people inside of the Congo," said Musavuli. "And the Congolese on the outside are also mobilizing for the same cause."

Kabila first came to power in 2001 shortly after his father, former rebel leader turned president Laurent Desire Kabila, was assassinated.

In the 2006 elections, which the United Nations helped organize and which Tshisekedi boycotted over concerns of fraud,  Kabila defeated former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba in a second round run-off.  Bemba is now being tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid