Africa: Human Rights and Democracy in DR Congo Are in Danger

Photo: The Observer

Post-election violence in Kinshasa, DR Congo (file photo).


The ongoing political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo needs careful analysis to understand its causes and possible nefarious effects in the short and long-run.

After being elected for a second term in office, president Joseph Kabila swore in on December 19, 2011 declaring that he would guarantee the integrity of the Constitution and the full respect for human rights and Human dignity by ensuring peaceful hand over of power in accordance with the provisions of Article 70 of the Constitution of DRC.

Late 2015 and throughout 2016 the ruling party attempted several actions to amend the Constitution to enable Mr Kabila to remain in office after December 19. Fortunately, all the initiatives attempted in that regard failed as a result of people’s consciousness and public mobilisation for protection of the Constitution, thanks to the coordination of civil society organisations and the opposition.

Fearing being prosecuted for the Human Rights Violations committed under his regime from 2001 when he took up power and conscious of reliable information on his involvement in several cases of corruption and misuse of the National Constitution, what would be qualify as act of treason, Mr Kabila anticipated all events by declaring the incapability of the electoral commission to hold election within the time frame spelled out by the constitution. He backed his opinion by the decrease of the prices of gold and other exportable natural resources.

As a way forward, he resorted to organising inter-Congolese dialogue, which resulted into the controversial declaration on the October 18. It is unfortunate that certain cadres of the opposition qualified such dialogue as non-inclusive, thus calling on the organisation of a new one under the agus of the Catholic Church.

Started December 8, the new negotiations facilitated by the high council of the Catholic Church in DRC “CENCO” was interrupted few days to the Constitutional end of the mandate of Mr Kabila. However, he rushed to publish his new Cabinet made of 65 ministers , vice-ministers and state ministers against the wishes of the poor Congolese Citizens.

It is important to mention that while the resolutions of the first dialogue initiated by Mr Kabila allowed him to remain in power until the electoral commission is able to hold election, possibly till April 2018, the talks facilitated by “CENCO” had sought to ensure cordial understanding among stakeholders on having the elections held in 2017.

If one had to agree with the resolutions of the first talks as facilitated by Mr Edem Kodjos, doubts on possible amendments to the constitution that would target the removal of term limits were not to be left out. The lack of clarity that characterised the final document of the talks brought more fear of having Joseph Kabila endlessly as the Head of State in DR Congo.

Also, the deliberate manipulation of the Constitution that led to the removal of the run off, leaving space to simple majority ballot, which led to elections described as highly fraudulent by the International Community would serve as a basis to continue untrusting the resolutions of such talks initiated in violation of the original constitutional provisions on how, when and who shall rule the DR. Congo after December 19.

Above all, since 2011, DR Congo has been indicated as one of the poorest countries worldwide with the richest leaders globally.

Having ratified international instruments that guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful protest and the protection of human dignity and human lives and bearing in mind that the same freedoms, including the right to access the information are guaranteed by the Constitution of the DRC under its Article 16, 22, 24,25, 26 , I recommend the following:

The creation by the head of state on an enabling environment for the dialogue being facilitated by the High Council of the Catholic Church in DR Congo to ensure cohabitation among Congolese citizens represented and peaceful power hand over by Mr Kabila in 2017.

Thorough investigation in all cases of arbitrary arrests, killings and abduction cases associated with the struggle for power as proven all along by the ruling party and other stakeholders in Congo. The recent event of December 20 where 11 protestors were reportedly killed and several others arrested should be investigated and prosecuted according to national and international laws. Measures taken by the state to restrict all access to Internet and others means of digital communications must be condemned by all the international actors.

The involvement of the African Union to ensure all support to DRC officials that is not backed by Congolese people and that violates fundamental rights should simply be minimised for the good of the nation, and that peace should prevail.

Mr Nsiku is a Congolese political scientist and security expert.

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