Obama and Congo: the Election, the Bill, and the UN Report


KPFA Weekend News, 11.27.2011


Congolese Americans protested Congo's election in front of the White House two days before Monday's polls, while police clubbed and fired tear gas and live rounds on a crowd marching to meet opposition candidate Étienne Tshisikedi at the airport.  




Leading presidential candidate Étienne Tshisikedi spoke to the press while detailed by Kabila's police at the airport in Kinshasa, where they prevented him from meeting the supporters marching to meet him. Police tear gassed, beat, and fired on. his supporters as they marched to meet him. Photo: Reuters KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest: UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon has appealed for calm ahead of tomorrow's presidential  election in the Democratic Republic of Congo following deadly clashes in its capital city Kinshasa.  Ban warned the government today that it has primary responsibility for maintaining peace in the giant nation. In a statement Ban said, quote, "I call on all political leaders and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to exercise restraint throughout the process, to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful and secure environment." Unquote.  

Three people were killed in campaign related violence and the government canceled final rallies by opposition candidate Étienne Tshisikedi and incumbent President Joseph Kabila, citing fears of violence. 

Police had blocked Tshisikedi and his entourage from leaving Kinshasa's airport yesterday, after his party said it would defy the ban on political rallies iimposed earlier in the day. Meanwhile Tshisikedi called for Ban to remove the head of the United Nations 20,000 member mission in  Congo and replace the American Roger Meese with someone that Tshisikedi called, quote, "more impartial and competent," unquote, citing fears of violence. 

The run-up to the Democratic Republic of Congo's second election since the 1998 through 2003 war has been marred by opposition allegations of irregularities and concerns about inadequate preparations. Aljazeera's correspondent in Kinshasa said that many polling stations still appear to be without voting materials.

Riot police advance on Tshisikedi supporters marching to meet him at the airport.. Photo: Reuters

Members of the Congolese diaspora in the U.S. rallied in front of the White House yesterday, with a banner that read "U.S.A. for Tshisikedi" twodays ahead of Monday's Congolese presidential election.  Étienne Tshisikedi is the leading challenger to President Joseph Kabila.  KPFA's Ann Garrison has more.  
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Abraham Luakabuanga, a native of Congo's capital Kinshasa, joined Congolese American demonstrators from 26 states behind the U.S.A. for Tshisikedi banner for much of the day and well into the night yesterday. Today he told KPFA that Congolese President Joseph Kabila, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are the heads of an East/Central African oiligarchy created to plunder Congolese resources. Luakabuanga said that the U.S. continues to back all three, despite the immense suffering of the Congolese people, because very powerful figures in the U.S. have economic interests in Congo's mineral rich eastern provinces.
Abraham Luakabuanga: Some big names are involved in these companies that are exploiting the east side of the Congo. If you look at the mining, the oil companies exploiting the gas and everything, they are mostly U.S. corporate. Even a former, still living president has some personal interest in the east side of the Congo. 
​KPFA: President Obama's reaction to Monday's presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is being closely watched, not only because President Obama is the world's most powerful military commander and the U.S.A.'s first African American president, but also because Friends of the Congo, Mobilization for Peace and Justice in Congo, and many other Congolese organizations have long called for the actual implementation of Obama's 2006 Senate Bill, the Obama Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, which empowers the Secretary of State to cut aid and diplomatic support to neighboring countries plundering Congo's resources. The bill also states that neighboring countries Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi use the threat of real or perceived hostile militias as an excuse to interfere in Congo's affairs. Congolese groups have also called on Obama to respond to the 2010 UN report documenting atrocities, including genocide committed by the Rwandan and Ugandan armies in Congo.
For more on Obama and Congo, and Obama's Congo Senate bill, and the UN report on Congo atrocities see the websites of Global Research, AfrobeatRadio.net, and the San Francisco Bay View.
For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.


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