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

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
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.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


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