When it comes to the President of a country, the U.S. isn’t the only one that’s upset about the results. On Tuesday, December 20th, 2016, Joseph Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, decided to stay in office even though his second, and final, term expired Monday at midnight. Kabila’s ability to stay in office is the direct result of the delayed election to appoint a new leader. The election was supposed to be held in November, but according to Kabila’s allies, it was delayed due to logistical and financial problems. Now, Kabila has no successor and officials are saying a decision won’t be placed until 2018.
This angered many people (referred to as the opposers) as they believe Kabila deliberately delayed the election so he could stay in office. The opposers are also angry because this decision is in direct violation of their constitution (http://www.smh.com.au/world/dr-congo-forces-kill-26-protesters-against-leader-joseph-kabila-20161221-gtfrvk.html). To express their anger, they began protesting ( in the city streets of Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Kananga, Matadi, and Goma. Sadly, the protests escalated, resulting in the death of 26 people, 45 injuries, and many arrests.
This, however, didn’t stop the opposers as the defiance continued on until Wednesday when activists in Goma sat in peaceful protest in front of the governor’s office. Their signs read, “No one is above the law, bye, bye Kabila” and “Protecting our constitution is not a crime.” The violence and protesting also shut down the Kananga airport and in Lubumbashi, tear gas was shot at a group of younger protesters.
Coming to a mutual decision on this matter will be a difficult one as the opposers no longer recognize Kabila as their leader and the ruling party is insisting he stay in office. Jean-Marc-a-Kubund, the secretary-general of the opposers, said, “We are trying to negotiate, but meanwhile Kabila is killing people. What we’ll negotiate is the departure of Kabila from power, that’s it.”
Reactions from Other Countries
Many foreign leaders are afraid that this will result in another outbreak, similar to the one that happened from 1996 to 2003. This outbreak led to extreme violence and the unfortunate death of millions of people.
UN officials were denied access to the detention centers where protesters are being held. The head of the UN mission in Congo, Maman S. Sidikou, called on local authorities to end these detentions and grant access to these UN officials so they can find out how many people were arrested. In a statement, Sidikou said, “I’m gravely concerned by the arrests of those who seek to express their political views…” and called on the Congo to end politically motivated detentions.
Officials of the United States have also expressed concern, stating that they’re, “greatly disappointed by President Kabila’s failure to organize elections and to state publicly that he will not run again.” They’ve condemned the latest violence and, along with the European Union, want Kabila to respect the constitution and urge him and his officials to reach a political agreement with the opposers before things get worse.
- Belgium has said that they’ll “re-examine” relations with Kabila.
- Germany is also considering postponing any new aid to the country.
- France urged the European Union to re-examine its links with Congo and asked the Congolese authorities to respect human rights. They also added thatKabila shouldn’t run again.
- The Catholic Church has made it clear that they’re not willing to accept unwarranted delays and that if a consensual decision on the political transition hasn’t been made by Christmas, necessary consequences will follow.
- Finally, Pope Francis, in his weekly address Wednesday, urged Congo’s political leaders to “listen to the voice of their conscience, to learn to see the cruel suffering of their compatriots, and to keep in their heart the common good.”