This comes as politicians have refused to compromise and brinkmanship is only serving to delay elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the under secretary-general for peacekeeping operations at the UN, said this week. He was providing a report back to the Security Council at the UN.
Elections in the DRC were supposed to take place last December, but were pushed to the end of this year, resulting in President Joseph Kabila’s reign continuing into its 17th year.
Kabila took over when his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in 2001 by a bodyguard. Laurent overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled the resource-rich country with an iron fist for more than 30 years.
Lacroix said the elections postponement sparked violent protests. He condemned the response of the country’s security forces who tried to quell the protests using live ammunition, rubber bullets, teargas and grenades. He said an investigation needed to be conducted by Congolese authorities into human rights violations.
The crackdown resulted in five deaths, more than 90 injured and hundreds arrested.
Daniel Dunia from the African Solidarity Network said the DRC was going through a new occupation. He said the country’s leadership was looting and supplying multi-national corporations with the country’s resources.
Dunia, a DRC expat who now lives in Durban, said Kabila’s extended stay was similar to Mugabe’s long reign.
“By all means he needs to go. The country does not belong to one person,” he said.
The violence plaguing his home country has directly affected him. Two of his relatives were injured in one of a series of attacks in the DRC.
“Another one of my relatives was injured during the protests,” he said.
His countrymen were tired of the what was happening in the country. “Poverty is out of control. We have no schools or roads in the country,” Dunia said.
What angered him most was that his home country was one of the richest in the world when it came to resources, but economically it was one of the poorest.
“People in the diaspora need to start preparing an administration and proper leadership,” Dunia said.
This preparation process needed to prevent another person like Kabila from appropriating power, he said.
Another expat, Denis Mbashacebweru, said every DRC national should be condemning what was happening in the country. He said it was a constitutional right for people to protest. “I was very hurt when I was watching videos of what was happening,” he said.
Mbashacebweru doubted Kabila would leave office soon.
What his home country needed, he said, was democracy and help from countries around the world. He said most Congolese do not go to countries like South Africa out of choice but because they are fleeing conflicts that have ravaged the DRC for decades.