AFRICA

How the DR Congo’s delayed elections affects the country

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2016 was a year of hope for many Congolese citizens who believed that it was going to be a historic moment for the country and the continent. Many citizens hoped the DRC would be an example in organizing credible elections in a country where everyone tends to cling to power.

Unfortunately, the government claimed that due to the lack of funds elections would not be organized in 2016, a situation that caused tremendous protests and a lot of political tensions. During the impasse, the international community, catholic church and national NGOs made efforts to help the country overcome the crisis, which had started to affect citizens.

The African Union stepped in to enable Congolese political leaders reach a solution by nominating a facilitator to help political parties and the government in convening a national dialogue that could aid politicians from the ruling and opposition parties reach a conclusion on the best ways to handle the crisis, but this failed to prevent a popular uprising leading to the deaths of fifty people.

The first national dialogue failed to succeed in silencing the radical side of the political parties rallying around the leadership of Etienne Tshisekedi, a prominent opposition leader who died recently.

A second national dialogue was held under the mediation of the catholic church, which led to signing agreements on New Year’s Eve. This gave renewed hope for a peaceful transition, however there are flaws in the drafting, which is likely to considerably hamper the implementation of these agreements.

The continuous postponement of the presidential elections has negatively impacted the social and economic development of the DR Congo. All state institutions (provincial assemblies, national parliament, senate, provincial governors and the presidency) have gone beyond their constitutional and legal mandate, to the extent where economic investors are afraid to invest as long as the political crisis persists.

On a security level, the failure to hold elections has resulted in religious sects and rebel groups terrorizing populations in order to make their claims heard.

The most palpable consequence is on the economy. The ongoing political uncertainty has chased investors away, causing the currency to devaluate, increased inflation thereby skyrocketing the cost of basic foods and making job opportunities for young men and women more difficult.

Politicians are engaged in an unbridled struggle to share government positions without taking into account the interests of the Congolese, which in turn has made the dialogue between the government and political parties more difficult.

Citizens are at the mercy of the government, dealing with deterioration of major infrastructure, non-payment of salaries to public servants and increase in the standard of living.

The political crisis in the Congo will only end when political leaders put the interests of the country first and work together to fulfill the aspiration of a truly peaceful and democratic political transition, which will guaranty the social and economic development of the nation.

 

The views expressed in this post are of the author’s and in no way reflect those of The Election Network.

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