Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Controversy in Kinshasa as Kabila Tries to Change the Constitution

Talk of changing the constitution and electoral law in the Congo is now mounting, with the national assembly debating the issue and parties tallying their members' votes to see whether they can win the vote. Yesterday, Congo's Catholic Cardinal Monsengwo came out in opposition to one of the more controversial reforms, which would make the presidential race into a single-round plurality vote. But it looks like President Kabila might have the votes to push through the reform anyway.  

What is at stake exactly? President Kabila has long said that he wanted to change the way representatives are elected. In particular, he and his associates have complained that it is difficult to push through the necessary reforms with 70 different  political parties in the national assembly alone, which has resulted in endless horse-trading and bribery. The ruling AMP coalition therefore has proposed to changing the electoral law to what they are calling a majoritarian system - this means that MPs will be elected based on lists determined by their political party and not as individuals.

Let's take an example - the Lukunga electoral district of Kinshasa currently has 14 seats in the national assembly. In 2006, voters elected their MPs individually, with several parties obtaining seats in Lukunga. If the proposed change goes through, the district would still have 14 votes, but voters would elect the MLC or PPRD or ARC list instead of individuals. If the MLC wins 50% of the vote, then they get all 14 seats. If they have less than that, under the proposed law, they would split the seats proportionally - they might get 4, PPRD 4 and ARC 6, for example. 

This proposal might not get through, as many current MPs, who would have to vote on these changes, fear that this list-based system would give too much power to the party leadership. Especially the smaller parties could suffer, as the PPRD is aiming at using its muscle and cash to dominate the upcoming elections, thereby eliminating many of the smaller parties that would only get through if they made an official alliance with another party (in which case they would have to cede some of their power and autonomy) or if no one in the district got the necessary 50% of the vote. 

This, however, is not the controversial reform. President Kabila has made waves by asking for the presidential election to be held as a one-round, plurality vote. This means that the candidate with the most votes in the first round gets elected, even if he only has 15% of the vote. This is what Cardinal Monsengwo has denounced a undemocratic. It is a smart move - Kabila would probably lose a fair two-round election in which his opponents would form an alliance and present one candidate in the run-off. This happened in the Ivory Coast, for example, an election that has struck fear in the heart of the ruling Congolese coalition. It would also save the government a lot of money, which has been their main selling point - they argue that up to half of the costs could be saved. 

In a one-round election, however, Kabila's opponents would split the anti-Kabila vote among themselves and the incumbent could still muddle his way to victory, as he knows that it is unlikely that Kamerhe and Tshisekedi, the strongest candidates for the opposition at the moment, would run on a joint ticket in the first round. If Congolese elections were issue-based elections, this system may not be so bad. But in the Congo, the vote is often based on approval or rejection of the incumbent alone - in this context, the proposed system would favor the incumbent Kabila, as the main policy issue in the election is whether you approve of the incumbent or not, and the anti-incumbent vote would be split in two, giving Kabila a much better chance at winning. This means that 60% of the population could vote against Kabila (30% Kamerhe, 30% Tshisekedi), but he would still win. Even worse, Kamerhe could win 20% in the Kivus, Tshisekedi 20% in the Kasais and Kinshasa, a gaggle of other candidates 30% in the rest of the country and Kabila could get elected with 21%, purely Katangan votes. 

These changes would not be unconstitutional - although some might argue that they go against the spirit of the constitution. Congo's constitution is relatively easy to amend - you only need 60% of the votes in parliament, and the AMP thinks it can rally these easily. Also, other countries in the world have a similar system, in particular countries in Latin America - Mexico, Nicaragua (although I believe you need at least 35% of the vote there), Paraguay - but also the Philippines and Seychelles. So the revision of the constitution and electoral law would be legal, but it could very well end up producing an unrepresentative vote. 

17 comments:

Tony said...

Maybe it would be good to learn of the biggest democracy in the world: How many of the american voters voted for Obama and before for Bush?

Sam Gardner said...

There is knowledge out there on what works and what not in the long run for democratic systems. How in some systems you get fractioned representation, in others no women elected, and in still others minorities forever excluded from power. Also on the risk of populism on two round presidential elections, an how the biggest party (short of 50 %) routinely gets eliminated, in favour of a coalition of all the others.

As usual however, the debate is not on getting a sustainable system for this country in need of governance, but on how keep power.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jason. (my response to you, btw, is coming).

Entirely agree with Sam.

The question for the opposition, in my mind, is what do they really want?

Is their goal simply power? (change the status quo but not the decadent, corrupt, and brutal system that has stifled the promise of the Congolese people from their Chief/Kings until this very day)

Or should the goal be systemic change? Like, say, using this battle to extract amendments to the Constitution that strengthens the legislative over that of the executive?

Clearly, both goals are related. But right now, they don’t have any power, but they can affect a measure of systemic change in this latest row.

Given the cracks in the majority’s armor, it may make more sense to go with the latter and get a few in Kabila’s alliance to defect (I believe 30-31 would suffice), accept this law change, but demand some changes that would properly balance the legislative over the executive (like, the National Assembly is the sole body that can levy taxes, has final approval over budgets, resource contracts, treaties, and approval of ministry/agencies heads....all veto proof).

That way, it wouldn’t really matter who wins in November 11’. Their power as President would, with reforms like I’ve suggested, be relatively neutered. Not to mention the Congo would have stronger institutions given a better balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The opposition, even under this change, will grow in the Assembly in 2011.

In this scenario, Kabila gets what he wants- perhaps another term- and Congo’s true patriots get a strong Legislature that can hold him, and everyone after him, to account.

For this to work, I fully realize a defection and a deal like this would need to happen rather soon.

And I believe we need to put a sharper focus on Obama/Congress to clearly define a strategy that gets the Congo better institutions, Jason. Not just be satisfied with all this useless court intrigue.

Obama, on this account, is correct: Africa doesn’t need strong men. It needs strong institutions.

Christopher

ps. So you know, my girlfriend is from Kisangani, and I have been to the Congo over 8 times in my life (i am 30). The last was in August and I spoke to quite a few opposition politicians. They have got to start getting real clear about what their goals need to be and the strategy to reach them. It can’t just be “get rid of Kabila”. Many just want power and to feed at the trough. That was clear to me. But many don’t and we gotta help them get from point a to z, Jason.

Richard Muamba said...

The first constitution must be revisited. There is no way in the world that a country's constituition be dictated by representatives from Belgian, USA and France as is the case with the current modified congolese Constitution. The Constitution is a foundation of nation upon which all institutions are built. It implies that no one is above the law, hence the objectives of UDPS to create a State of Law. Will the western powers allow the advancement of a true democratic Nation in the DRC and try not to impose on congolese an other leader as has been the case for the last 50 years?

Anonymous said...

To be clear, having met so many Congolese, I know what they are capable of.

I do. They continue to give me hope for what humanity is capable of achieving. Every last one of them.

I guess I am a "hope monger", Jason. But as I am sure you know, they have it in spades.

Christopher

Rich said...

Reflecting from some of the comments above, I wonder how many of us have had a chance to fully read the proposed amendments!

Jason, in your remark, you repeated it again and again that if there is going to be an amendment, it will not infringe any law, let alone the Constitution. However, you went on to say that, despite being legal, such change may well end up producing an unrepresentative vote that does not reflect the spirit of the Constitution.

My take is this, because the proposition comes from the majority, I can summarise people’s fear into the following two points:

1. J Kabila is eager to change the Constitution because he simply wants to remain in power.
2. Such change may produce an unrepresentative vote because someone may get elected with less than a certain percentage of votes.

With regards to the first point, I would say, I am against the idea of seeing people hanging to power for longer than needed. I say this because, after a certain time in office, it is possible for rulers to reach their level of incompetence and at such stage an influx of a breath of fresh expertise and new aspirations will be a good thing. For this reason alone, I think, after being in charge since 2001, J Kabila should have left power in 2011 regardless of how he got to power.

That being said, I wonder what politician would not capitalise on any open door in order to try and increase his chances of accessing or holding on to power? Maybe the debate between the main political parties in Britain on the voting system [Single Transferable Vote [STV] Vs Alternative Vote (AV) systems] would help us digest the fact that what is being attempted in Congo is not at all eccentric!

As to the second point, what is an unrepresentative vote? Are we talking about what denominator, the total population or the number of votes casted? Because, if we are talking about the number of votes casted, we know that this number can shrink to a very low level but we will still be able to deduce 50% from it! For this reason, I think this notion of ‘the majority of votes casted’ (50% of votes casted) needs to be revisited and better defined (Article 71 of the Constitution and Article 114 of the Electoral Law of 2005).

Why can’t the opposition be able to coalesce from the first round of the election? The opposition can still agree on a joint ticket from the first round (if this is the only chance it has to beat the incumbent) and reduce the cost for a second round. If members of the opposition are unable to agree on a joint or single ticket from the first round, it is then wasteful if not illusory to assume that they can only be able to do that in the second round (if ever there is one)!

In any case, it seems like there are more infatuations in our debate than there are reasons! Let’s get the chance to fully read the content of the proposed amendments and give the Congolese parliament (which is a legitimate institution in its own rights) the chance to debate on this before drowning our reasoning deep into unduly speculations.

Anonymous said...

No matter what kind of vote is adopted , HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA can not win a FREE and FAIR election in congo.The big question is what gods ( west; USA,UK,EU and UN) will decide. If they decide to keep the impostor in place, they have to rig the election (like in 2006) and be ready this time to kill ten of thousand congolese , otherwise H.KANAMBE aka J. KABILA has no chance

Anonymous said...

I think Christopher has a good point.

But perhaps the question is how do both sides get what they want but still moves the Congo forward?

From my understanding, in order for this change to be made, 60% of both parts of the Assembly have to vote “yea”.

But something you didn’t mention, Jason, is that Kabila only has 50% support in the upper house- the Senate.

So, for all intents and purposes, he faces a “filibuster” in the upper house and the Opposition have the upper hand.

Thus, to get back to my original question, perhaps this deal should be struck:

- the opposition allows this change
- but the majority/Kabila accepts reforms around what Christopher is suggesting

How would this satisfy both factions AND help the people of the Congo?

Kabila is toast in November. He may win a first round, but his majority will totally and completely disappear. There is no way he has a majority in the Assembly after these elections- even with the proposed changes. Thus, he gets what he wants and the opposition potentially becomes the majority and they get more veto power of the presidency. A more empowered National Assembly- think England here- is in the best interest of the Congo’s people who have never had a body of representatives that holds sway over an executive (though, in their pre-colonial kingdoms, they did have such institutions to check the power of the King/Chief).

You can’t tell me that a divided government- Kabila on one end (with his powers clipped) and say the Speaker of the Assembly of a different (but in the majority) party would not be good for the Congo. The rot and corruption and the conflict in the East are, as you well know, tied to a state that doesn’t function. Well, a state begins to function when there are, as you put it, “competing power centers”. Indeed, it can’t function without this!

How do we get to such a “grand bargain”?

The opposition in the Senate must hold up and hold firm. Everything must stop- particularly passing the budget (ie, Kabila cannot pay and bribe people off). Ensure a quorum isn’t held. Engage in protests nationwide at key places- embassies , corporate mining hq’s, etc. Basically, wear down the majority with stalling and street tactics. There needs to also be more pressure from the Africa/Congo constituency here as well to tacitly support the opposition. Enough, ONE, Avaaz, hell even MoveOn should demonstrate daily at the IMF, the Chinese embassy, and World Bank so as to shame them into compliance.

Then, enter into negotiations and, in exchange for this amendment, ask for others that strengthens Parliament and, perhaps, demands that the “security” forces declare allegiance to the credentialed winner of the Presidential elections. This will avoid a military taking sides (sure, probably not, but it is worth a try).

A bargain is then set and everyone gets what they want.


I realize that, as an aspiring academic, you probably are more comfortable talking about the problems in the Congo. That is important, Jason. But we also need to start coming up with solutions to those problems. Perhaps, when we all do, you can then write about the success of the Congo!

It would be interesting to get your thoughts on all this, Jason.

Melissa
mmelanax@gmail.com

ps- While Christopher is, given his employer, a liberal I am not. I am a Republican strategist but also a evangelical (Southern Baptist). And, as you know, American evangelicals have considerable power in Central Africa and in DC. I have also been to Congo several times over the last 4 years.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that most of the posters( americans) in this blogs do not understand congolese politic. Congo is not US, or UK or FRANCE people. congo is not a democratic country. In 2006 Opposition won in more then 6 provinces out of 11, but HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA, used corruption and intimidated opposition MPs to control every provinces, even kinshasa and Equateur where he barely had less than 1% of votes.Charing power is always a difficult exercise even in democratic country like France.
The solution for congo is: after 10 years in power the rwandan impostor MUST go. that is what congolese people want.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from today....

It is most certainly true that we “americans” may not understand all the intricacies of the Congo’s politics. I (Melissa), and probably Christopher, can grant that.

However, what I believe we do understand is power. And behind politics, is the naked ambition for power. The desire for power is the same, in America, in Congo, in China, in Brazil, in Iceland. Power is power and all human beings crave it. The only difference here is how power is used and wielded through a political system. More to the point, it seems pretty clear that the “americans” that have posted here have engaged in politics at a deep level. We have practiced “politics”. So, this gives us some clue as to what is the problem. And finally, we have read quite a bit about the problems in the Congo.

As an example, I know what you are referencing when you say “Hyppolite”. Many Congolese believe, though it has not been proven, that Kabila is a Rwandan and thus a foreigner. Particularly Congolese who really hate Kabila.

Well guess what? Among Americans who really hate Obama, they believe he is a Kenyan and should not be President. They are called “birthers”. Just google “birthers” and you will see what I am speaking of. Even though he was born to an American mother and in an American state (which makes one a citizen) they STILL believe this and have used the courts to try to prove it. They are filled with hatred for Obama so no amount of “proof” will convince them.

I am aware of all of the Congo’s corruption. I have done business in the country. Believe me, I am aware of how deep it runs. But I also live in a country where corruption occurs, where we have an active mafia, and where “buying off” politicians is a high art form. Google “Jack Abrahmoff” and you will see exactly what I mean. I have met many Congolese politicians in the opposition and MANY are NOT corrupt and love the country and all its people.

And I am also aware of the intimidation of opposition politicians by Kabila OR his agents And in my own land this occurs and on this very day one of Obama’s best allies in the Congress was shot in the head. Probably by activists who do not like her because she supports Obama. She lives in a state where Obama and Democrats are NOT popular.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/gabrielle-giffords-shot-c_n_806211.html


I agree “Kabila must go”. But I also believe, as I believe Christopher and Jason believes, that he isn’t the main problem- he is a SYMPTOM of a problem. Kabila must have his power checked by other institutions. He has TOO MUCH power. But even if he goes- by the ballot or a bullet- the problem of weak institutions will remain. And hence Congo’s problems will remain. The people of Congo desire real freedom and they are capable like all people of democracy. Lumumba believed this, and I believe this. BUT, democracies need to divide power so it doesn’t concentrate in ONE place.

Anonymous said...

(part 2)
As an example, Obama cannot just do whatever he wants on something like the budget to pay for government. He can submit a budget and raise taxes to pay for it (as he is about to do now), BUT the budget and the taxes must be approved by Congress. If Congress doesn’t approve it then no money for our “ministries” and no taxes. This is how our Congress checks the power of the President.

There are NO checks on Kabila’s power. But, as I stated, he doesn’t control all the seats in the Senate to pass this amendment (just like in our Congress, Obama no longer controls the lower house) which means the opposition- if they get it together- can exact things from Kabila to weaken him. They should use this opportunity.

Christopher and I are not academics like Jason. We are STRATEGISTS. We try to come up with steps to “get Kabila to go” or to strengthen Congo’s democracy. Good strategies are theories- they may not work. But we must try them. We cannot just talk about problems, we must try to find a way to solutions for the people of Congo. ALL OF THEM. They have suffered enough and for years. But I believe they are capable of great things and I hope everyone on this blog believes that too.

If you want Kabila to go then what steps need to be taken to realize this?

Feel free to respond to me personally if you would like.

The “american” Melissa
mmelanax@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out, Melissa! We should speak.

It is true that we “americans” see the world through our eyes and our interests. But when we do, it is always through a prism of how we can best help all peoples to live in freedom. At its best, that has meant supporting patriots like Nelson Mandela and freeing Europe from Hitler. At its worst, that has meant our own CIA being implicated in the death of Lumumba because, according to them, he supported the Soviet Union- at the time our sworn enemy.

We now have a President that supports African democracy (and is half African) in real and tangible ways which is leading, ever so slowly, in an awakening among our fellow countrymen and women about the successes and challenges that confront African democrats. I believe that is a good thing for both Africans and Americans.

I’d be interested in hearing what folks who are not American here believe we should do to assist true democrats in the Congo- both here in America and in the Congo on the ground.

That said, both Melissa and myself see some openings ahead for the “opposition” in the Congo. And indeed, this very “reform” has encouraged a slight measure of unity for what remains a divided and under siege opposition.

From Radio Okapi:
http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2011/01/08/constitution-et-loi-electorale-la-declaration-commune-de-l%E2%80%99opposition-decalee/

The truth remains that Kabila DOES NOT HAVE a majority in the Senate to pass this proposed reform. And it is equally true that real freedom and change cannot happen in the Congo as long as its institutions outside of the Presidency remain weak.

Given this, a few questions:

1. How do we encourage the Congolese people themselves to demand some unity among the opposition?

2. If unity comes, what should be the goal of the opposition with this proposed reform that strenghthens the Assembly (and thus weakens Kabila’s and his successors power) AND/OR makes it harder for him to win this year?

3. How can they use an effort to buy off and divide them (which will likely happen) to their advantage?

4. Once the oppositions goals are set, what should be the strategy to reach these goals?

It might be true that Congo does not have a “democracy”. But it is equally true its people desire liberation and an opportunity to ensure it approaches. Properly thought through and by the end of this year they could very well have both.

Have faith in the Congolese. As a citizen of a land that once enslaved Africans and now has (half) of one as President I really do.

Christopher

kimpa said...

Christopher, you and Melissa may be approaching this matter from a flawed perspective. The fact that you neglected to point out in your statement that although the American people may have supported Mandela, the American government did not. The American government saw Mandela as a TERRORIST. In fact, he was ONLY recently removed from the US terrorist list by an act of Congress.

Here in lies the possibly flaw in your approach. Congolese are suspicious of Americans who say they want to help the people of the Congo but say little or nothing about their own governments historic and current support of dictators and mass killers of Congolese and other Africans.

A few simple suggestions to start helping Congo:
1. Tell the US government, especially the Clintonites to stop arming, financing and training the RPF - enforce the Leahy Amendment.
2. Ask your government to tell their sub-agents Kagame and Museveni to open political space in their countries. Tell the Obama Admin that you no longer want your tax dollars supporting dictators and mass murderers like Kagame and Museveni.
3. Lobby for the expansion of political space in Congo -- start by demanding of Obama to implement the Obama Law (PL 109-456)
4. Tell Susan Rice, Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton to apologize to the people of Central Africa for imposing and unleashing their "Renaissance Leaders" on the masses of Africans in Central Africa.
5. Hold your president to his words when he says America should support strong institutions and not strongmen in Africa.

When you start at home in the US, you will be a lot more credible and believable - until then, you will be looked upon with suspicion. We may believe you are more interested in getting rid of Kabila than you are in seeing democracy flourish in the Congo.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kimpa.

But therein lies the question: how do we do both? How do we encourage democracy to flourish and get rid of Kabila?

I believe Melissa and myself have laid out strategies. We haven’t tried to divine problems. We leave that to the academics like Jason.

But, I want to state very clearly, it is simply my opinion that even if Kabila were to die tomorrow, Uganda and Rwanda occupied by Kenya, every American rallies for the Congo in every city, every mining company in the world went under, and China were to supplant America and Europe as the world’s preeminent power that the problems in the Congo would remain. Externalities have existed for centuries and for all nations, Kimpa. And they always will. But that, by itself, cannot stop the Congolese from seizing their destiny and people outside of the Congo of good will to assist them.

I agree we in America must rally the Africa constituency to support Congolese patriots. And we are and we will.

But it is also the case that the Congolese people (civil society, opposition, human rights activists, etc) must seize, and seize with all their might, this opening.

Both are necessary, Kimpa. It cannot be one or the other but BOTH.

Thank you for your suggestions. I promise to let them guide my analysis- though, to be clear, your suggestions are not new to me.

So, a question for you: how do the Congolese THEMSELVES create a viable democracy in this year of opportunity and what steps do they take to do it?

I’d really like to hear yours and others thoughts on this.

Thanks,
Christopher

Rich said...

@Christopher

Ref # “So, a question for you: how do the Congolese THEMSELVES create a viable democracy in this year of opportunity and what steps do they take to do it?”

Sorry for intruding, I don’t think there is a simple and straight forward answer to this question.

Pretending to have a simple and straight forward answer to such a complex situation without consulting with Congolese and not having a good grasp of local knowledge will be PATRONISING.

As you can see, although I do not agree with the totality of the statement made by the Anon who said, some interventions posted here are sometimes out of touch with local realities, I can relate to what he meant. Local realities is not only about ‘understanding the naked ambition of POWER’, having read more about the Congo or having engaged with politics at a deep level. ‘Local realities’ is also about being able to fully grasp and identify to the culture, to a certain extent.

Before I finish, let’s share some of Prunier’s great thoughts.

In 1885, at the heyday of European imperialism, Africa was a continent apart. It had no nation-states, no caliphate, and no empire. It did not even have the crude military dictatorships that at the time passed for states in Latin America. It was a continent of clans, of segmentary tribes and of a few sacred monarchies. Societies were what mattered, and the state was a construct many could live without…colonial European logic played havoc with a delicate cobweb of linguistic, cultural, military and commercial relationships. New borders were created not so much in violation of pre-existing ones but in accordance to a different logic. African borders had been porous membranes through which proto-nations were breathing, and the colonial borders that suppressed them were of the pre-1914 cast-iron variety. Then, within those borders, vast enterprises of social and economic rationalisation were undertaken, all for the good of the natives, of course, and for the greater prosperity of the empire. African social and cultural ways of doing things were neither taken into account nor questioned; they were simply made obsolete…the Europeans rationalised African cultures to death. And it is that contrived rationality that they bequeathed to Africa when they walked away from the continent in the 1960s.

The problem was that this rationality had not had time to filter through from the exalted spheres of government and philosophy to the real lives of ordinary people… the European had destroyed a traditional culture, planning to rebuild it along wonderfully rational lines at a later date. But history forced them to walk away before they could complete their supposedly benevolent alternative system, thus giving renewed tragic relevance to Antonio Gramsci’s famous remark that:

“THE MOMENT WHEN THE OLD IS DEAD AND THE NEW IS NOT YET BORN IS A VERY DANGEROUS MOMENT INDEED.”

My final remark: Having these thoughts in mind when reflecting on how to find the best way forward in Congo, will help us remain modest and tone down our (us Congolese or American of good heart) legitimate impatience of wanting to see things 'improving' fast in that beautiful land (THE D R CONGO).

Jason Stearns said...

Thanks for all the feedback. A few points:

1. The AMP theoretically has a slight edge in the senate, I believe - in theory, they have 58 senators out of 108. I will post the list on my Scribd page. However, as the vote for the president of the shows, they don't always vote as the AMP would like them to (they elected Kengo wa Dondo over the AMP choice of She Okitundu). But it will be difficult to convince them, that is true.

2. The US government cannot and should not dictate policy in the Congo. But they should help the Congolese build a system that allows them to build a more stable and equitable society. Good elections can help in that, but are by no means enough - in fact, if they threaten Kabila's power base, they can spell destabilization, which is one reason why diplomats may be tempted to look the other way when rigging happens.

3. US policy must indeed be regional and include Rwanda and Uganda - but it would be short-sighted to think that the solution or the problem lies in those countries alone.

Anonymous said...

@ Christopher

It seems like you don't even know what is the main problem in congo.
Jason said: "Kabila" would be likely to loose a free and fair vote, even if he succeeds in changing the constitution to a one-round plurality vote(which he may well do)He could lose even then. Now to your questions to Kimpa.
-How do we do both? How do we encourage democracy to flourish and get rid of Kabila? getting rid of kabila by a free and fair election will encourage democracy to flourish.You should support congolese people to achieve that.
-How do the congolese THEMSELVES create a viable democracy in this year of opportunity and what steps do they take to do it? The first step to be taken by congolese to create a viable democracy in this year of opportunity once again is a free and fair election, give the power back to people who will choose their own leaders. Fairly and freely elected Leaders will have the support of most of population,with strong political will,strong institution and a stability are possible.

@jason
You said: the US government CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT dictate policy in the congo.BUT They SHOULD HELP the congolese build a system that allows them to build a more stable and equitable society. Good elections can help in that,but are by no means enough-in fact, if THEY TREATEN "kabika" power base, they CAN spell destabilization.REALLY
The US government( the west in general) MUST BE DEEPLY involve in congo politic( they always have), must help congolese to hold a good election and recognize only the will of people. "Kabila" power base is nowhere to find in congo . How can the US government help the congolese build a system that allows them to build a more stable and equitable society and hold a GOOD ELECTION without shaking or threatening the heart of the problem? "Kabila" power base(if it does exist) should be bring down,destroyed so that the power base of people ( congolese) can be elevated high above all.
How can you suggest a GOOD ELECTION in the same time urging no to threaten the so call "kabila" power base? and indirectly advising diplomats to look the other way when rigging happens?

If the US government and the west do not do it, we, congolese people will, BY ANY MEAN NECESSARY.

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