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Friday, July 1, 2022

A Major Election Takes Place this Sunday in The Democratic Republic of The Congo

CSMS Magazine Staff WritersFifteen years of political transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo may finally come to an end this Sunday. One of the largest countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, about half the size of the United States east of Mississippi river, DR Congo is a country with a very troubling history since it gained independence in 1960 from Belgium, especially after the Assassination of Patrice Lumumba considered to be the father of modern Congo.            Like Haiti, Congo is a deprived country with its population living in extreme poverty. Unlike Haiti, it is a country ravaged by ethnic warfare. Since independence, DR Congo formerly known as Zaire was ruled by a despot named Mobutu Sese Seko, a man that many believed had his hands in the killing of Lumumba. In 1998, a coalition of opposition forces led by Laurent Kabila swept to power in bloody war supported militarily by Rwanda and Uganda. In 2001, Laurent Kabila was mysteriously assassinated, and his son Joseph Kabila, who was then the head of the arm forces, succeeded him. Most observers agree that the younger Kabila is favored to win. However, the election process does not come without violence.                 According to Associated Press, seven people have died in various incidents across the country since Thursday; including a member of the vice-president’s security team who was shot dead Friday in an alleged clash with President Joseph Kabila’s guards.Kabila, the front-runner, has made “consolidation of peace” the main slogan of his campaign. “I ask you to vote massively for the people’s candidate, Joseph Kabila, for the consolidation of peace and the pursuit of the reconstruction of the country,” he told the rally here late Friday.            Minutes earlier, shooting had erupted as Kabila’s convoy, heading to the rally, passed troops assigned to protect Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa on the road to the airport, UN officials said. Ruberwa, a former rebel and a candidate in the election, accused Kabila’s guards of opening fire on his security team but this could not be confirmed by police. Election-related violence has spiked as campaigning drew to a close, raising concerns among EU forces sent to provide security for the polls and reinforce the regular UN peacekeeping deployment.            The United Nations predicted more trouble as the country holds its first multiparty presidential and legislative elections since declaring independence from Belgium in 1960.”The capacity for things to go wrong is fairly well developed here. We believe these will be good elections, but not perfect ones, there will be problems,” UN envoy Ross Mountain said on Friday. Germany is spearheading a 2,000-strong EU military mission to secure the elections, in addition to the 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping force sent after the end of the war.            The DRC, despite its poverty, is a country rich in mineral but it has almost no infrastructure. The economy was ruined by 37 years of dictatorial rule by Mobutu Sese Seko, followed by the 1998-2003 regional war soon after Laurent Kabila took power. Joseph Kabila has impressed the West by clamping down on corruption, but ethnic fighting, clashes between rebels and the army, and looting of natural resources persist. Some 25.7 million people are registered to vote in the polls, which will see them elect a president and 500 lawmakers from a list of more than 9,000 candidates.

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