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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid