WBAI AfrobeatRadio: Tshisekedi, Kabila, and Congo

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila's Republican Guard fired tear gas and live rounds at unarmed crowds of Étienne Tshisekedi supporters on 11.26.2011, two days before the election. Some protestors were shot dead. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in political crisis. The Independent National Electoral Commission, which is headed by an ally of incumbent President Joseph Kabila, announced that Kabila is the winner, with 49 percent of the vote. The commission says that his leading challenger, Étienne Tshisekedi,  won only 32 percent, but Tshisekedi rejected the results and declared that he now considers himself the nation’s president. The other prominent candidate, Vital Kamerhe, agrees. The Carter Center election observer mission stated that the election "lacks credibility" and reported that they were "unable to provide independent verification of the accuracy of the overall results or the degree to which they reflect the will of the Congolese people."  

 

The announcement of Kablia's victory led to riots in Kinshasa and calls from opposition leaders for the international community to intervene.  There have since been confrontations between demonstrators in the Katanga and North and South Kivu Provinces and military police have arrested protestors in Katanga.

 

On Thursday December 15th, he US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing about the crisis, where experts from the International Crisis Group told them that the Congolese election is indefensible and that Kabila is now ruling without a shard of legitimacy.

 

Eric Kamba, Congolese refugee and social worker with the Congolese Development Center

At the urging of the UN and the Catholic Church, Vital Kamerhe, on December 15th, took the opposition case for annulment of the results and a new election to the Congolese Supreme Court, even though Kabila, anticipating electoral disputes, appointed 18 new Supreme Court judges at the outset of the campaign season, increasing the number of judges on the court from 9 to 27. Kamerhe's lawyers called the proceedings a "travesty of justice" and walked out of the courtroom before the end of the first day. On Saturday, December 17th, the court ruled that Kabila had won the election and was therefore the rightful president of the D.R.C.  The East African presidents of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Sudan have already recognized Kabila, but Obama's State Department has refused to say whether he will or not.

 

This discussion of Congo's political crisis, with Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Friends of the Congo, and Eric Kamba, Congolese refugee and social worker with the Boston-based Congolese Development Center, was recorded on Saturday, December 10th, and broadcast on WBAI, 99.5fm-N.Y.C. and streaming online, on Thursday, December 15th, 2011.

 

Maurice Carney, Executive Director, Friends of the Congo .

 

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