The Congo File: Briefing notes on Tshisekedi and DRC’s future

Saturday January 19 2019

  Asuman Bisiika

Asuman Bisiika  

By Asuman Bisiika

The African Union (AU) is said to be planning to discuss what they call the crisis in the DR Congo. A conflict-prone country, the latest crisis was triggered by the disputed electoral victory of Felix Tshisekedi.
Please note that at the head of AU’s discussion table, there will be an African president whose last electoral victory was by 99 per cent.

In May 2018 or thereabouts, this is what I wrote about the presidential elections in the DR Congo:
‘On Sunday, December 23, 2018, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to elect a new president. Please note that I have deliberately used the word ‘expected’ instead of ‘will’ or ‘shall’. With the DR Congo, we treat these things with lots of reserve.

The new president may after all not be new; and the elections, like it has happened on two occasions before, may not take place (on the said date). You know, when it comes to DR Congo, (even) the gods don’t seem to be good enough to act with consistency and constancy. But in spite of the failings of the gods, my gut feeling is that the elections will take place.’

It is our considered opinion that the accusation that President Joseph Kabila made a blind pass to Felix Tshisekedi is wrongly premised. And even if Kabila did make that blind pass, we strongly believe the candidature of Felix Tshisekedi had its own national appeal capable of a victory.
There were three main candidates (or actually personalities) in this election. And these three represented constituencies that bordered on captive clientele. These were Felix Tshisekedi, Martin Madidi Fayulu and Ramazani Shadary.

Of the three main candidates, Tshisekedi was more pro-Congo than the two. He was the only one with no (or very limited) rear base outside the country; actually his rear base was the Congolese.
Fayulu represented the interests of Jean Pierre Bemba Gambo (former vice president), Moise Katumbi Chapwe (former governor for Katanga Province) and the international community.

Aramazani Shadari was President Kabila’s handpicked candidate and represented the ‘no change’ position and the State. Tshisekedi (political activist and son of veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba) represented the Congolese civil non-violent political activism.
The truth is that the disqualification of the candidatures of Moise Katumbi and that of Jean Pierre Bemba left the race wide open and possible game to Tshisekedi. In spite of the joint opposition candidature in Fayulu, let us just say Tshisekedi was strong enough for President Kabila to seek refuge in his candidature.
What is the AU going to do when the complainant has not fully exhausted the appeal process in the country? And what does the AU want to do before the regional grouping SADC has not even exhausted their diplomatic engagement with Congolese actors?
We have been told that the SADC engagement will be mainstreamed as part of the AU discussion process. But even a junior diplomat would advise the AU to leave SADC do the job. The debacle of the AU threat to Burundi is still fresh in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Does the AU realise it is setting a precedence that would render them under some kind of compulsion to intervene in the electoral process of many African countries? Does the AU possess the credibility and moral wherewithal to manage or guide or discuss electoral process on the continent?
Since the AU has denied ‘us’ coups d’ etat, election rigging is now our new coups. Can you imagine the said AU intervening in Kampala in 2021 or in Kigali in whatever year the next election will take place?

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.
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