La raison a quitte les Americains pour aller se reposer chez les Afghans, les Irakiens, les Lybiens, les Syriens, les Congolais…
Pourquoi Kabila « must go » mais Museveni, Kagame, Sassou… « must not go »?
Et les raisons que Foreign Policy, un magazine tres strategique dans le cosmos politique Etats-Unien sont absolument « bogus » ou dupeuses!!!
Kabila Must Go
There are hints that the president of the DRC wants to delay presidential elections. Here’s why that would be a disaster.
• By Marcel DirsusMarcel Dirsus is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kiel, Germany, who focuses on democratic transitions and political purges.
• November 11, 2015 - 2:19 pm
On Oct. 31, a spokesman for President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo called for the country’s presidential election — originally scheduled for November 2016 — to be delayed for two to four years in order to ensure their “credibility.” This would be convenient for Kabila, who is constitutionally ineligible to run for another term. Although the government’s information minister played down the possibility of a delay, DRC experts have already noted Kabila’s strategy of creating administrative hurdles to postpone elections. In the DRC, the rules don’t matter. Power does.
The Kabila regime is not without friends. Over the last few years, China has invested heavily in the DRC, and Kabila can most likely count on support from at least some of the DRC’s neighboring countries, such as Angola, should he decide to stay in power. And even Kabila’s fiercest critics would concede that he has done some things right. The country’s economy is now one of the fastest-growing in the world. Prudent fiscal and monetary management are keeping inflation low. According to the World Bank, the DRC’s poverty rate fell from 71 to 63 percent between 2005 and 2012. In the country’s previously war-torn east, an active civil war has been reduced to low-level violence.
Most importantly, it can be argued that any presidential election held in 2016 would be too flawed to maintain stability, because the Congolese election commission lacks expertise, money, and the ability to organize a census. Fears of instability are compounded by the fact that the DRC has never witnessed a peaceful transition of power. In this narrative, leaving Kabila in power would be a trade of democracy for good governance — and peace — that would ultimately serve the Congolese people. So why insist on upholding the rules?
There are two reasons, and both suggest that Kabila’s time in power needs to end. The first is that
Kabila’s regime has forfeited its legitimacy by regularly committing atrocities and violating human rights.
Kabila’s regime has forfeited its legitimacy by regularly committing atrocities and violating human rights. In January this year, Congolese security forces fatally shot at least 21 peaceful protesters by firing into a crowd. In the country’s volatile eastern hot spots, Congolese soldiers often rape, loot, and kill civilians with impunity. In one especially gruesome case of mass rape, more than 130 women and girls were assaulted, but only two out of 39 implicated soldiers were found guilty of rape despite overwhelming evidence. This culture of impunity makes clear that Kabila’s disdain for the rules has invalidated his regime’s legitimacy. (Perhaps in an effort to encourage Kabila to step down, one of his main opponents, Moïse Katumbi, said in a statement on Wednesday that he should receive immunity from prosecution after he goes.)
Second, if Kabila disregards legally imposed term limits, he risks destabilizing his country’s precarious peace. Although conflict never truly stopped in the DRC, it has become more localized and small scale since the Second Congo War ended in 2003. Causing several million excess deaths, the war involved multiple African countries and more than a dozen armed groups. If the chaos in nearby Burundi is any indication, an attempt to prolong a presidential administration beyond its prescribed limit risks sparking violent opposition. And the violence currently engulfing Burundi is much, much smaller than what we can expect in the DRC.
Since the country remains impoverished, the grievances that fueled the armed opposition have not been solved — these conflicts are merely on hold. Throughout the country, groups from the Catholic Church to the regime’s powerful ex-allies have made clear that they will not accept an extension of Kabila’s reign. At the beginning of this year, crowds across this vast country took to the streets when Kabila made a first attempt to stay in power by manipulating the legal system.
By contrast, giving up power and following the rules set out by the constitution would signal to the country that Kabila is subject to the same rules as everyone else. It would also set a precedent for others with wealth and power in the DRC who believe they are exempt from adherence to the law.
Another reason Kabila should step down is that this would buck an increasingly dangerous regional trend of flaunting constitutional limits. In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame is in the process of changing the rules so that he can stay in power until 2034 rather than the current limit of 2017 — which would allow him to reign for nearly three and a half decades. Across the river from Kinshasa, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville recently won a controversial referendum allowing him to run for a third term. In Burundi, as we have seen, President Pierre Nkurunziza has already gone a step further: His attempt to grasp a third term in office plunged his country into chaos. After surviving an attempted coup, he cracked down on dissent and held sham elections that were widely criticized by the international community.
The Kabila government itself has always insisted — and continues to pointedly tell donors such as the United States — that Kabila respects the constitution. The plan to delay elections proves that he doesn’t. Even before the ruling coalition spokesman called for an election delay, funding for the Congolese election commission (CENI) had been delayed, and both its president and its vice president have mysteriously resigned within three weeks of each other. Given the regime’s penchant for brutally repressing dissent, it seems unlikely that these officials simply volunteered to step aside.
Given the country’s extremely limited infrastructure, budget shortfalls, and logistical issues, a Congolese presidential election in 2016 would certainly not be perfect. Nevertheless, the West must pressure Kabila to step down after his mandate. While in Kinshasa last year, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered Kabila assistance for the upcoming election and urged him to step down. This is not enough, as the West’s direct influence is limited. In addition to direct pressure, the United States and the European Union should make a serious effort to convince powerful regional players such as Angola and South Africa that an orderly transition can best protect their interests and investments.
If Kabila can be convinced to allow an orderly transition of power in the DRC, it will make clear that such an improbable feat can be done just about anywhere — in Burundi, in Rwanda, and across the river in Brazzaville.
The first peaceful transition in one of the world’s most troubled countries would send a powerful message across Africa.
The first peaceful transition in one of the world’s most troubled countries would send a powerful message across Africa.
But most of all, Kabila’s decisions hurt ordinary citizens of his own country. There’s a saying that the fish rots from the head, and so it is in the DRC, where Kabila’s disdain for the rule of law decays down to the local level.
Two years ago, I found myself in a remote village in the southeastern tip of the sprawling country, in the volatile Katanga province. The scenery was breathtaking. The hospitality was, too, as a local fisherman took me out on his boat, showing off the pristine, untouched beauty of an adjoining lake. After months in a compound, this was a breath of fresh air — a side of the DRC that is obscured by conflict and insecurity: vast, beautiful, and full of potential.
When I arrived back on land, hospitality turned to hostility. As the boat came ashore, armed men in fatigues greeted me, AK-47s slung on their shoulders, and claimed to be a part of the Congolese security services. They informed me that I had broken an important ‘law’ by being on the lake. “You could have drowned, and laws are laws,” the security officer said, his words of concern for my wellbeing somewhat at odds with the order to come to the “station” for questioning. I was certain there was no such law. But I was also certain that I did not want to spend a night in a Congolese jail. The law didn’t really matter. What mattered was who had an AK-47 and who did not. When the choice was put before me to pay a modest ‘fee’ or face their wrath, I eventually paid.
As a Western visitor, I was merely passing through. For me, it was an unpleasant afternoon. For tens of millions of Congolese, it’s everyday reality. There is no bribe that can be paid to release the DRC from Kabila’s political machinations and free it from poverty, plunder, and conflict. Until the DRC’s governance improves, the potential of one of the most natural resource-rich countries on Earth — and the aspirations of its people — will continue to be squandered by men with guns.
In the photo, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, waves during the swearing-in ceremony for Tanzania’s newly elected president in Dar es Salaam on Nov. 5, 2015.
Photo credit: Daniel Hayduk/AFP/Getty Images
2. Playing for Time and Ultimate Power in Kabila’s Congo
With elections coming soon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s two-term president is playing a dangerous game to win a third.
• By Jason K. StearnsJason K. Stearns is the author of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. He is the director of the Congo Research Group at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.
• September 30, 2015
On Sept. 15, a crowd of several thousand rallied in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Organized by opposition parties, the demonstration was protesting what it perceived as President Joseph Kabila’s attempts to postpone the country’s 2016 presidential elections. Albeit small and hardly a threat to Kabila, the protests rankled his increasingly skittish government. Eventually, a band of thugs — reportedly sent by the government — broke up the protests, resulting in a bloody clash with opposition supporters. This was no isolated instance: In January, government forces brutally repressed opposition demonstrations. Authorities have also arrested prominent youth activists and oppositions leaders over the past year.
The stakes of Congo’s upcoming elections are high. The country’s constitution bars Kabila, who has ruled the country since 2001, from running for a third five-year term. If he stands down in December 2016 at the conclusion of his current term, it would mark the first peaceful transfer of executive power the country has seen in decades. Under his rule, the Congolese economy has quadrupled in size, and the country has largely emerged from a civil war (low-grade violence still affects millions in the east). Senior officials, include some close to the president, have also made a fortune thanks to the privatization of the mining sector.
But the Congolese are bracing themselves for more unrest, as Kabila’s onetime allies break with him and the streets of Kinshasa and other major urban areas grow increasingly restless. Whether or not full-on turmoil breaks out rests largely on the president’s decision about his own political future. And so far, Kabila seems eager to extend that future, indefinitely.
As a prerequisite for the November 2016 presidential election, Kabila’s government has insisted on first holding local elections to select mayors, local councilors, and administrators. But these elections, slated for Oct. 25, will be the most complex the country has ever attempted, with some 8,000 seats up for grabs. Election officials agree, in private, that it will be impossible to hold the polls this year due to their logistical complexity, cost — up to $1.1 billion — and a basic lack of resources. Kabila, however, seems intent on forging ahead. On Aug. 26, he signed a law allocating seats for the upcoming local elections, meaning that the government is determined to proceed with risky polls that have a high likelihood of failure. If they do fail, presidential elections will likely be delayed.
This fits with what Congo-watchers refer to as Kabila’s strategy of glissement, French for slippage: creating a plethora of administrative and political imbroglios requiring precious time and resources to resolve. These imbroglios include the election scheduling issue, as well as the administering of a national census, which has been shelved for the moment. Another part of glissement is découpage, or cutting up: the creation of at least 26 provinces to replace the current 11. While the 2006 constitution called for this change, it was not until last year that Kabila began to treat this as a priority, leaving many to question his timing. Regardless of the rationale behind the process, it will undoubtedly drain further resources from the state budget and further delay the electoral process. Such is glissement.
If Kabila insists on staying on, it will almost certainly stir trouble, both within Congo’s fractious political elite and on Kinshasa’s unpredictable streets.
If Kabila insists on staying on, it will almost certainly stir trouble, both within Congo’s fractious political elite and on Kinshasa’s unpredictable streets. On Sept. 14, seven political parties, all members of the ruling coalition, wrote to the president, denouncing his “unstated intention not to respect the constitution” and suggesting that this was “a suicidal strategy.” The same day, all seven signatories, including the national security advisor, the minister of planning, and the vice president of the national assembly, were promptly fired. According to officials close to this Group of Seven, as these dissidents are now known, they are backed by Moise Katumbi, governor of the mining-rich southern province of Katanga. Katumbi, who has been employing a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., to promote his presidential ambitions, has deep pockets and is well-connected among the foreign business community. On Sept. 29, Katumbi officially resigned from Kabila’s party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy, a probable precursor to launching his own campaign.
Alongside this political fracturing, Kabila also must manage the mercurial tempers of Kinshasa’s 12 million people, most of whom are desperately poor. Predicting an impending Congolese Spring is a common pastime, but until recently there were few signs of sustained popular mobilization. While the opposition managed to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in the run-up to the last presidential polls in 2011 — an election widely believed to have been rigged in Kabila’s favor — government forces quickly and brutally suppressed unrest.
This time might be different. Under the leadership of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the Catholic Church — one of the largest providers of social services in Congo — has grown increasingly critical of Kabila. In private, senior church officials have told me that they would back popular protests if Kabila tries to hang onto power; the church itself, however, is internally divided over the extent to which it should be involved in politics.
Kabila is preparing himself for the storm to come. In an effort to divide his opponents and placate the streets, he has courted the main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), led by the octogenarian Étienne Tshisekedi. Representatives from both sides held secretive talks in Venice and Ibiza in recent months, discussing the contours of a potential national dialogue to resolve the dispute over the sequence of elections. The voter register is also contentious, as up to 8 million Congolese who have reached voting age since the last elections do not yet appear on the official rolls — although, according to foreign diplomats, hundreds of thousands of dead people do. On Sept. 13, however, the UDPS announced that talks had broken down. Its leaders claimed that the government was attempting to co-opt the UDPS into a national unity government in order to postpone the presidential elections indefinitely.
Kabila also finds his international support waning. Congo still benefits from the world’s largest peacekeeping mission — around 20,000 blue helmets are deployed there currently, costing $1.3 billion a year — and a fair share of its budget is funded by foreign donors. Nonetheless, U.S. criticism of Kabila has grown increasingly strident. During his tenure as the Obama administration’s special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, Sen. Russ Feingold called for Kabila to step down at the end of his term on several occasions. His Belgian, French, and British counterparts support this stance but have been less outspoken.
But Kabila may be able to pivot away from Western support. Donor contributions to Congo have declined in recent years, going from 42 percent of the country’s budget in 2010 to 19 percent in 2015, as mineral production has increased dramatically. As of last year, Congo is now Africa’s largest copper and cobalt producer, though the recent commodity slump has dampened its ambitions somewhat. Still, though global giants like Glencore have begun shutting down some mines, they have sunk so much money into Congo that they are committed to toughing it out.
As Congo has tried to wean itself off foreign donors, Kabila has asked for a scaling down of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, claiming that violence has decreased and the state security forces have improved, and is looking increasingly toward China for support. While the $6 billion infrastructure-for-minerals deal concluded between the countries in 2007 has been slow to reap dividends for both sides, Kabila’s trip to Beijing in August and the recent sale of lucrative mining concessions in Katanga to two Chinese companies — Zijin Mining Group and Huayou Cobalt — confirm this eastward turn.
Critically, it appears that Kabila can still count on support from influential neighbors on the continent, in particular Angola, which shares (somewhat unequally, according to many Congolese) large offshore oil fields with Congo, and South Africa, whose companies have invested $865 million in Congo since 2006.
In the end, Kabila’s plans are still unclear. He may still try to launch a frontal attack on the constitution to change term limits, and on Sept. 22 members of his coalition submitted a law preparing for a constitutional referendum. Playing for time, however, is a risky strategy, and Kabila has often spoken, in public and private, about not wanting to end up like two of his heroes — his father, Laurent Kabila, and Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, both of whom were assassinated in office. The current view from the presidential palace cannot be comforting: The Congolese security forces are riven with internal divisions and patronage networks while the combination of a divided elite, an incensed population, and foreign opprobrium signals troubled waters ahead.
Photo credit: Junior Kannah/AFP
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