Editorial on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo
News of the further postponement of elections billed to hold on Sunday, December 30 in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC and an accompanying crackdown on citizens protesting this clearly very provocative action has come as a very rude shock to this pan-African newspaper.
According to reports, the Electoral Commission, CENI had stated that it was postponing the elections on account of essentially security challenges in the affected areas. When we add to the mix of tales the facts that the tenure of the incumbent President, Joseph Kabila had lapsed since December 2016 and that the same electoral authorities had only last week announced a postponement of the polls to enable it secure replacement voting machines for those that had been mysteriously gutted by fire in its warehouse in the capital, Kinshasa, then we can see a pattern of incredulous tale-bearing that, if allowed to linger, could lead to other most unhelpful consequences.
In our view, part of the problem has been the reluctance of the continent to confront the threat posed by the continued illegal stay in office of President Joseph Kabila since his constitutional tenure in office lapsed in 2016.
Seeing that he has been allowed to get away with that act of raping the Congolese constitution, Mr. Kabila has continued to very whimsically and most arrogantly rub it in everybody’s face that indeed there is nothing that can be done to change the status quo in the country. This is most regrettable.
In our view now is the time for the African Union to to invoke the ‘Jammeh solution.’ Here it will be recalled that following the unwillingness of then President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia to relinquish power following his defeat at the polls the Union had asserted in very strong tones that it would not only cease to recognise him as president of The Gambia after the constitutional elapsing of his tenure in January 2017 but also warned of ‘serious consequences in the event that his [Mr Jammeh’s] action causes any crisis that could lead to political disorder, humanitarian and human rights disaster, including loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties.’
We think a similar statement should be made now with preparations being made to enforce it. Accordingly then, we call for an immediate activation of all of the organs of the union with a view towards ensuring that not only is President Joseph Kabila made to comply with all of the extant acts of the Union that the DRC is signatory to, but that the potential of the current crisis escalating to assume further cross-border proportions is tamed.
Equally, we think that beyond Mr Kabila, the attention of other state actors in the DRC should be called to the fact that Africa and the world will very stridently punish any and every person or official that lends him or herself to the violation of the democratic order in that Central African nation today. In this wise, the leaders of CENI, the Congolese electoral body and the security services come up for special mention. Should they be found complicit in any anti-people shenanigans, they should equally be brought to book.
To a great extent, the Rwanda Genocide happened because groups that could intervene failed to do so. Africa must avert a further deterioration of relations and the quality of life in the DRC, which even without this added unnecessary burden, is already grappling with multiple crises on the economic, medical and security fronts. The time to act is now and this newspaper and history will not forgive the AU if it fails to take timely steps to prevent a clearly looming state of crisis and tension.