Africa Giving Examples to the World - Democratic Republic of Congo in Focus

Radio Okapi/Ph. John Bompengo
Félix Tshisekedi

Lumumba was the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. History however revealed that most African countries at Independence, did not have sovereign people whose sense of belonging to a nation overrode the sense of belonging to ethno linguistic groups or regions. Narrow regional and ethno linguistic sentiments were fanned by the defeated colonial powers in order to maintain a stronghold in Congo and an iron grip on its huge mineral resources.

Lumumba was murdered. Congo went into chaos and Mobutu came to power and stayed in office until May 1997 when he was overthrown by a mass movement led by Laurent Kabila. After being in office for less than four years he died under mysterious circumstances and was replaced by his son Joseph Kabila.

He decided to win the support of the UN and maintained UN troops in order to contain regional militias. He held an election in 2006 and won as the incumbent and commenced a very divisive mandate in a sub region that was in turmoil. A term limit was established. He sought a second term in 2011 and won as the incumbent. He still presided over a divided Congo.

Elections should have been held since 2016. However, an unsettled Congo bred many factions. An undecided Kabila had to make up his mind as to whether seeking a third term through constitutional amendment or not, could not unify the republic. Signs of stability began to emerge when he decided not to stand for a third term.

Three political trends emerged as the elections of 30th December drew near. One trend clustered around his minister of the interior who is deemed to have been positioned to continue his legacy. Two other coalitions were built around Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi.

Interestingly enough Tshisekedi was declared winner of the polls and now the courts must decide the outcome. Hence the courts are now becoming extremely relevant in determining the outcome of elections. It had happened in Kenya and it is now happening in Congo. The rule of law rather than the rule of the gun is becoming entrenched in Africa. The sleeping giant is gradually awakening. Once it is at peace with itself her sons and daughters will march to the citadel of liberty, dignity and prosperity with accelerated power of motion. The 21st century may after all be a century for a rising Africa.

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