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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid