29 October 2015

Congo-Kinshasa: President Kabila Turning Into the New Mobutu Sese Seko As the World Watches

Photo: John Bompengo
DRC Electoral Commission

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila is on the verge of becoming the present day Mobutu Sese Seko, that loathed and fallen dictator to have ruled the former Zaire.

Sese Seko died a lonely and miserable death in Morocco in 1997 when he was toppled by Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila - the father of the current leader - in a rebellion that started in the east of the country.

For 32 years, Mobutu led a vicious regime, looting the country's resources, subjecting the general population to abject poverty and maiming those who dared raise their finger to completely run down an otherwise rich country whose recovery has 17 years later not occurred.

And just when the Democratic of Congo was hoping to see some light, a new Mobutu in President Joseph Kabila is somehow born.

President Kabila's second term expires next year after a two term mandate. He has served at the helm of the country for nearly 15 years with the first five considered transitional.

The Head of State is not seemingly ready to go anywhere even when the constitution is clear. He is playing delaying tactics to announce the election process in the hope that he can manipulate the constitution in his favour. These attempts have already received strong opposition from the general populace in Congo.

Congolese are patiently waiting and anything to the contrary may prompt a volcanic reaction from a people that have endured untold misery, living through a war ravaged country since they secured independence from the Belgians on June 30, 1965.

Make no mistake, President Kabila's steps are under the microscope of world leaders. The super powers are watching, for no single country wants to spend as much as has been spent on one of the biggest UN Peace Keeping Missions.

The world is documenting how President Kabila is threatening his political adversaries. President Kabila is intimidating his political opposition, presumably in the attempt to stay in power.

In order for democracy to flourish abroad, the United States and the EU are now being called to take an even firmer stance and play their leadership roles before the situation escalates.

President Obama, in his speech to the African Union in July said, "Africa's democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end."

"When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife -- as we've seen in Burundi. And this is often just a first step down a perilous path. And sometimes you'll hear leaders say, well, I'm the only person who can hold this nation together. If that's true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation."

"You look at Nelson Mandela -- Madiba, like George Washington, forged a lasting legacy not only because of what they did in office, but because they were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully. And just as the African Union has condemned coups and illegitimate transfers of power, the AU's authority and strong voice can also help the people of Africa ensure that their leaders abide by term limits and their constitutions. Nobody should be president for life. ?

"And your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas."

Many of the people President Kabila has attacked were his supporters as part of the nation's coalition government.

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