New pres­i­dent faces huge task ahead

The East African - - NEWS -

FELIX TSHISEKEDI will face many chal­lenges if he clears the le­gal hur­dles in the way of his elec­toral win.

The DRC suf­fers from ram­pant cor­rup­tion, wide­spread con­flict, en­demic dis­ease, and some of the world's high­est lev­els of sex­ual vi­o­lence and mal­nu­tri­tion. It is also rich in min­er­als, in­clud­ing those cru­cial to the world's smart­phones and elec­tric cars.

Mr Tshisekedi cam­paigned on a plat­form of end­ing cor­rup­tion and healing the na­tion.

After the CENI de­clared him win­ner, he said he will be the pres­i­dent of “all Con­golese.”

His first chal­lenge will be to heal the coun­try after years of po­lit­i­cal cri­sis over elec­tions and ten­sions cre­ated by Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila's stay­ing be­yond his term.

Now a new chal­lenge has emerged, with Martin Fayulu ques­tion­ing his vic­tory. He will have to fight hard to gain le­git­i­macy in the eyes of mil­lions of Mr Fayulu's sup­port­ers and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, with a sec­tion of for­eign en­voys con­cerned about the con­duct of the elec­tions.

Then the big­gest chal­lenge is how to bring peace to the east of the coun­try, in­clud­ing in North and South Kivu, where there are dozens of armed mili­tias op­er­ate. In Beni in North Kivu, sev­eral ar­eas have been emp­tied be­cause peo­ple are flee­ing to safety. Farm­ers are too afraid to go to their fields for fear of be­ing at­tacked.

The DRC, be­ing a large and difficult coun­try to ad­min­is­ter, the econ­omy is char­ac­terised by a lack of cru­cial in­fra­struc­ture. In the east of the coun­try, pop­u­la­tions have been suf­fer­ing from con­flict for over 20 years.

Ac­cord­ing to Jean Paul Ilunga, pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion of the Congo in Di­as­pora (East Africa), one of the big­gest prob­lems in Congo now is the low lit­er­acy rate, at only 17 per cent. He says this pro­motes con­flict.

“The only good thing is that the Con­golese peo­ple don't keep grudges, which will make it eas­ier for Mr Tshisekedi to heal the coun­try,” said Mr Ilunga.

Cor­rup­tion

Tshisekedi will also have to re­deem the coun­try's im­age in the eyes of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially donors, by dealing with of­fi­cial cor­rup­tion. Again, decades of con­flict, po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, cor­rup­tion, loot­ing and min­eral smug­gling have dec­i­mated the min­ing sec­tor, which used to be DRC'S eco­nomic en­gine.

De­spite the coun­try's vast nat­u­ral re­sources, the World Bank says that nearly 63 per cent of the 90 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion live be­low the poverty line.

The DRC is the world's largest pro­ducer of cobalt, which is used in the pro­duc­tion of bat­ter­ies for cell­phones and other con­sumer elec­tron­ics. The coun­try also holds more than half of the world's cobalt re­serves. The coun­try pro­duces large quan­ti­ties of cop­per, di­a­monds, gold, oil, tin, tan­ta­lum, tung­sten and zinc. But all these riches have failed to im­prove the liv­ing stan­dards of its cit­i­zens.

Last year, Congo's econ­omy grew by 3.7 per cent but economists are pro­ject­ing an up­turn fol­low­ing a rise in the prices of cop­per and cobalt— two of the coun­try's key ex­port com­modi­ties.

How­ever, po­lit­i­cal ten­sions aris­ing from the elec­tions and the vi­o­lence in the eastern part of the coun­try re­main the two big­gest chal­lenges for Mr Tshisekedi.

Pic­ture: AFP

Sup­port­ers of the newly-elected DRC pres­i­dent Felix Tshisekedi cel­e­brate his vic­tory.

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