DRC po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion ‘con­fused’ as coun­try heads to polls

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

DEMO­CRATIC Repub­lic of Congo op­po­si­tion leader Au­gus­tine Kikukama’s wife Kuku Itambo has de­scribed as “con­fused” the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the cen­tral African coun­try, which is headed for elec­tions on De­cem­ber 23.

In an in­ter­view, Itambo, who deputises her hus­band in the M17 said although the party was en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to vote in the up­com­ing elec­tions, there was an el­e­ment of un­cer­tainty as it re­mained un­clear what would hap­pen to the coun­try af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the re­sults.

“The sit­u­a­tion is quite con­fused. We don’t know what will hap­pen af­ter the procla­ma­tion of the re­sults. We, as a party, are push­ing peo­ple to vote be­cause we be­lieve it’s time for change. We have demon­strated that we are a peace­ful party and we don’t want peo­ple to keep fight­ing. It’s not longer time to pick up guns and fight but to vote and make a dif­fer­ence in the coun­try,” said Kuku.

The elec­tions will end Pres­i­dent Josepk Ka­bila’s rule. Ka­bila has been in power since Jan­uary 2001.

The vote is crit­i­cal for the fu­ture of the DRC, a min­er­al­rich coun­try that has never known a peace­ful tran­si­tion of power since in­de­pen­dence from Bel­gium in 1960, ac­cord­ing to AFP.

Ka­bila’s sec­ond and fi­nal elected term in of­fice ended nearly two years ago, but he stayed in of­fice, thanks to a care­taker clause in the con­sti­tu­tion.

Months of spec­u­la­tion over Ka­bila’s in­ten­tions, marked by protests that were re­pressed at a cost of dozens of lives, ended in Au­gust when he threw his weight be­hind Em­manuel Ra­mazani Shadary, a hard­line for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter and loy­al­ist.

Last week at least seven op­po­si­tion lead­ers picked lit­tle-known Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Martin Fayulu as their joint can­di­date in the vote. Itambo said M17 was not part of the deal. “We are not part of Ka­bila’s party or the coali­tion. The fact is al­most all the lead­ers of this so called coali­tion have worked with Ka­bila in the past. So what dif­fer­ence are they go­ing to bring to the coun­try? The ques­tion is: Are they re­ally will­ing to work for the pros­per­ity of this coun­try?,” said Itambo.

She ex­pressed con­fi­dence that her party, which will only con­test for par­lia­men­tary and gov­er­nor­ship seats, will emerge vic­to­ri­ous.

“We are not run­ning for pres­i­dency and our chances of win­ning the par­lia­men­tary and gov­er­nor­ship seats are quite high. We have fielded at least 355 can­di­dates in at least 22 of the 26 prov­inces of the coun­try,” said Itambo.

She said that her party had a mem­ber­ship of seven mil­lion, which con­sti­tuted 10% of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion.

Asked whether she thought the elec­tions were go­ing to be free, fair and cred­i­ble, Itambo said: “There is no way we can have a fair elec­tion in a coun­try that is hugely known for cor­rup­tion. We know that peo­ple are us­ing pub­lic money for them­selves and not for the coun­try. So we can’t de­velop the coun­try.

“We are one of the rich­est coun­tries in the world and yet most of our peo­ple are liv­ing on $1 a day. We are among the top 10 rich­est in the world but most of our peo­ple are suf­fer­ing be­cause peo­ple are us­ing the coun­try’s re­sources to en­rich them­selves.

“What I’m aim­ing to say is that there is no way elec­tions can be held fairly in the DRC when op­po­si­tion par­ties do not re­ceive cam­paign funds from the gov­ern­ment,” she said.

She ac­cused the rul­ing party of us­ing gov­ern­ment funds to re­main in power.

Itambo also raised con­cern over the coun­try’s elec­toral com­mis­sion, which she said was de­signed in such a way that it favoured the rul­ing party.

AFP re­ported in Au­gust that moun­tain­ous hur­dles faced the coun­try’s elec­tions as the gov­ern­ment had re­jected of­fers of ad­vice, over­sight and elec­tion fund­ing from abroad.

The author­i­ties, the re­port said, had re­jected the ap­point­ment of South African for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki as “spe­cial en­voy” to the bal­lot, a role an­nounced in the press but not of­fi­cially con­firmed by Pre­to­ria.

“I can tell you that there will be no spe­cial en­voys to the DRC, even if they are Thabo Mbeki” — the host of peace ne­go­ti­a­tions that ended the Sec­ond Congo War in 2003 —Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila’s diplo­matic ad­viser, Barn­abe Kikaya Bin Karubi was quoted as say­ing at the time.

Ob­servers “tend to be­have like pro­con­suls. They don’t re­spect the DRC’s au­ton­omy. We want to mark our sovereignty”, added Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Lam­bert Mende. — AFP

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