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Congo deserves a leader who cares about the Congolese people

December 1, 2011

by Eric Kamba, with research and editing assistance from Ann Garrison

Police club Tshisikedi supporters as they attempt to march to meet him at the airport in Kinshasa, where Tshisikedi had been detained by police, on Nov. 27. – Photo: Reuters
The international community and the secretary general of the U.N. must explain why they are not calling out irregularities in the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), instead of just saying that things are going relatively well – or pretending to ignore this election in the world’s most resource rich nation, with the world’s lowest standard of living and the highest death toll due to armed conflict since World War II.

This is what happened at the polls on Nov. 28 and 29, as it has been reported to me by friends and family on the ground in the DRC:

1) There were fictitious polling stations, polling stations with no ballots, polling stations stuffed with advance ballots previously checked with the name of incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

2) Ballots were stored by private individuals in their houses, instead of guarded official sites. This meant they could be filled out before they were delivered to the polls.

3) The names of many registered voters were not included on the lists.

4) State security forces attacked, wounded and killed civilians.

Riot police advance on demonstrators marching to meet opposition presidential candidate Étienne Tshisikedi at the airport in Congo’s capital and largest city Kinshasa, on Nov. 27. – Photo: Reuters
Kabila’s police have been filmed by AFP and photographed by Reuters beating Tshisekedi supporters and firing tear gas and live rounds as they marched to meet him at the airport. Those wounded by gunfire were also visible in the AFP news report. Death, consequent to shooting by police, has been reported to me, with pictures, but not yet documented by a coroner, news outlet or election observer team.

Many of the polling irregularities have been reported by election observers and reporters, but of course there will be no official reports until after the election. European Union observers report irregularities at 79 percent of the polls but say they will not issue an official report until after the election.

However, with such blatant violence and fraud, no one needs to wait for an official report to see that Congo’s election is badly tainted by violence and fraud. These are deliberate efforts to maintain the system for plundering Congo’s wealth instead of using it to improve the lives of Congolese people.

These are deliberate efforts to maintain the system for plundering Congo’s wealth instead of using it to improve the lives of Congolese people.

What is the real mandate of MONUSCO, the U.N. mission in Congo?

This system for plundering Congo was described in detail in the U.N. Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2008. However, MONUSCO, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, remains in Congo, with U.N. troops but without disrupting, much less eliminating, the system of plunder.

Indeed, this year, a North Kivu judge sentenced a MONUSCO driver and his accomplice to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine after they were arrested attempting to cross the Congolese border into Rwanda with 1,200 kilograms of the mineral cassiterite.

MONUSCO spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai insisted that this was a singular incident and denied allegations that the U.N. mission is involved in the very plunder they’re supposed to be there to prevent. However, Congo Planet pointed out that this is not the first time MONUSCO peacekeeping troops have been caught smuggling minerals and that they have even been accused of dealing weapons to militias smuggling minerals. Congo Planet called for MONUSCO to subject its own vehicles to inspection at Congolese border crossings.

This is not the first time MONUSCO peacekeeping troops have been caught smuggling minerals and that they have even been accused of dealing weapons to militias smuggling minerals.

Human Rights Watch, in a press release regarding a letter that it sent to the United Nations under-secretary-general for U.N. peacekeeping operations, titled “U.N.: Hold Peacekeepers Accountable for Congo Smuggling,” wrote, in 2007:

“Human Rights Watch first brought information about gold smuggling by peacekeepers to the attention of the United Nations in December 2005, and an investigation was begun. The BBC conducted its own investigation, broadcast on May 23, 2007, which quoted a U.N. official as saying that there was a desire to ‘bury the result’ for political reasons.”

Congolese Americans rally in Lafayette Square on Nov. 26, asking President Obama to support a free and fair election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which they say would make Étienne Tshisikedi the country’s next president. – Photo: Abraham Luakabuanga
Why would anyone now expect the same MONUSCO to be working to support a free and fair election in Congo, especially if a candidate chosen by the people might finally mount a real effort to end the plunder and restore Congolese resources to the Congolese people?

Ending the plunder would be a daunting task, given the well established criminal networks described in the U.N. reports and given the huge markets for smuggled minerals. But is there any reason to think that MONUSCO would want the Congolese to elect a president committed to stopping the plunder or that MONUSCO would help such a president?

There is a clear parallel between the 2006 and 2011 presidential elections.

In 2006, the U.N. Mission in Congo was called MONUC, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before its name was changed to MONUSCO, in 2010. MONUC was led by former U.S. Ambassador to the DRC William Lacey Swing, who had a very controversial record. And the 2006 election was not free and not fair, though that was not the story sold to the world.

In 2011, MONUSCO is headed by another former U.S. ambassador to the DRC, Roger Meece. And, once again, the country is confronted with election chaos, including shootings, beatings and tear gas of an opposition candidate’s political supporters. Can anyone explain this?

Opposition presidential candidate Étienne Tshisekedi speaks to the press while detained at the Kinshasa airport on Sunday, Nov. 27, two days before the polls. While he was detained, military police beat, tear gassed and fired on supporters marching to the airport to meet him. – Photo: Reuters
Opposition candidate Étienne Tshisekedi has called on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to appoint someone “less corrupt and more credible” than Roger Meece to head MONUSCO. It is imperative that the secretary general answer the following questions honestly:

Why are former U.S. diplomats appointed to head the U.N. Mission in Congo? Is it a coincidence or a rule?

How does he, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, explain the electoral chaos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite nearly $9 billion U.N. dollars spent on MONUC and then MONUSCO since 1999?

How does he explain the ballots so obviously transported and distributed by CENI (Independent National Congolese Electoral Commission) and, in some cases, by MONUSCO, that ended up in private rather than official hands?

How much credibility can the U.N. have when its staff is involved in plundering the country with the lowest standard of living in the world?

The Congolese population is overwhelmingly rejecting President Joseph Kabila, not only because he failed to repair or build new Congolese infrastructure or improve their standard of living in 10 years’ time, but also because he failed to stop the plunder.

Nevertheless, Kabila is enjoying the support of foreign heads of state and the international business community. They are expected to make every effort to keep him in power, even though there can be no credibility to an announcement that he has won.

The determination of the Congolese people has taken the world by surprise

The Carter Center’s election monitoring mission wrote, “It was evident to observers that large numbers of Congolese voters were determined to exercise their fundamental political rights.” That determination has been far beyond anything the world expected.

Congolese-born Congolese-American Eric Kamba, the author, says that he cannot safely return home so long as Joseph Kabila is in power.
On Nov. 30, the New York Times reported that initial results were showing opposition candidate Étienne Tshisekedi leading 3 to 1 in the country’s capital and largest city, Kinshasa, but that the national electoral commission, headed by a friend of President Joseph Kabila, is threatening to disqualify tens of thousands of opposition votes.

Courageous and determined Congolese people are saying, “No, enough is enough. Change has come to Congo. We want President Tshisekedi,” and the rest of the world should stand with them. A phone call from Barack Obama to Joseph Kabila saying, “It’s over; you lost; time to step down,” could probably stop a bloodbath in the heart of Africa.

Eric Kamba is an activist and editorial writer and a social worker with the Boston-based Congolese Development Center. He says he cannot safely return to his home in Congo so long as Joseph Kabila remains in power. Eric can be reached at ekamba@aol.com. President Obama can be reached at (202) 456-1111 to leave a comment or (202) 456-1414 for the switchboard.

Eric demonstrates outside the White House with other members of the Congolese diaspora in the U.S. on Nov. 27.

Agence France Presse reports from the DRC Nov. 27.

Aljazeera in the DRC Nov. 27

Aljazeera in the DRC Nov. 29

 

26 thoughts on “Congo deserves a leader who cares about the Congolese people

  1. Lumumbiste

    Yet, another article from a member from Tshisekedi's tribe. We are tired with this tribalism in the media.

    “Tshisekedi was named to the “college of commissioners” that Mobutu designated to run the government, and in January 1961 signed an arrest warrant for Lumumba, who was assassinated after being taken into custody.

    After Mobutu staged a second coup in November 1965, Tshisekedi served as interior, justice and planning minister, and was the first secretary of the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR), Mobutu’s party.”

    © ANP/AFP

    Reply
    1. Saramago

      Sir, what you say is true, although this has been thouroughly investigated and President Tshisekedi has been found innocent of anything related to the events you describe. In fact, because of his position, the reality of which you appropriately chose to omit, is that President Tshisekedi spend long peiords of time in jail because for 30 years he fought the Mobutu regime and its policies. President Tshisekedi is the only hope for the Congo – you sir, should be ashamed to support a criminal like Kabila. Why don't you expose your candidate for what he is?

      Reply
  2. Saramago

    Let me describe the person you support to become the President of the Congo. First, he is not Congolese (As an American, I would not want to be represented by anyone but an American born-citizen as my president). Second, this same man has been president for the last 10 years, during which time over 3.5 million (some estimates say over 5 million) people were systematically murdered because of conflic related to mineral extraction and other imperialist/colonialist activities.

    Reply
  3. Saramago

    Today, sir, today, there are 40 documented rapes occurring in the Congo, each and every day. Those are the documented ones, and one can infer that perhaps there are another 40+ which are not legally filled for many reasons. This has all bee done while Mr. Kabila is president. Why should the average Congolese give him another 5 years? What he is going to do that he has not done already? The people fo the Congo want real change, "change they can believe in", and that is President Tshisekedi.

    Reply
  4. Saramago

    Of course, the US (my own country), the EU, and other western powers have no interest in the freedom and prosperity of the Congo and its people. Under "puppet" Kabila, they can continue to "rape" the Congo of its estimated 30 trillion dollars of miniral wealth – this is how the west defines its form of colonialism or imperialism today. The UN, and all these so called "human rights organizations", financed by western powers, are nothing but tools of the western powers to legally terrorize and colonize the Congo and others like Congolese around the world. Wake up people of the Congo. It is better to die for the moral right than to suffer this slow death being inflicted by the so called morally superior western powers.

    Reply
  5. Scott Morgan

    There are plenty of problems in the Congo. The US is funding the deployment of Contractors as well the DRC as well. I contributed to the story on ISN Insights which can be found at http://www.isn.ch

    There are too many contradicting stories regarding the voting process being free and fair. The Actions by Criminal Elements, Militias and the Security Forces during this time is deplorable. The real problems will probably not occur until after December 6th. That is when the actions of the UN, EU, The US, Rwanda and Uganda may come home to roost.

    Reply
  6. thakagus

    Tshisekedi's tribe is a minority every where in the D.R. Congo except in the center. However during the last electoral campaign while touring the provinces Tshisekedi raised a tremendous wave of support from the local populations. My friend, Tshisekedi is supported primarily because as of today he is the only reliable politician who represent the real change wanted by the people.

    Reply
  7. 'wane congo

    Why colonisation will only remain in DRC while colonisation era is over??? For this we are ready to shed more blood just to get our freedom.Millions have died for nothing. The world has no pity( the international community,SADC – the most useless organisation of all time). Supporting sister Kabila after commiting the highest level of crime on the planet??? we know politic exist but that's not how they do it.. the ICC should have is file ready.

    Reply
  8. Ann_Garrison

    @'wane congo: Unfortunately the ICC, specifically Luis Moreno-Ocampo threatened Tshisikedi a little over a week ago, and then, on the day of the election, Laurent Gbagbo was flown into the Hague to stand trial at the ICC. This is an obvious effort to intimidate Tshisikedi. We're going to try to talk about this tomorrow on WBAI AfrobeatRadio, 4 pm eastern time. WBAI streams online at wbai.org.

    Reply
  9. Richard Madimba

    Dear Eric

    Thank you for your article, which is so accurate in regards to the Congo actual situation. We hope that President Obama can read that article and act accordingly. Our people have suffer so much since the creation of the country. Time has come whereby we need to give a chance to Congolese people to embrace their destiny for once.
    Best Regards,

    Richard

    Reply
  10. Emmanuel B

    Papa Eric,

    Merci et felicitations pour votre article que je viens de lire dans BayView de San Francisco. C'est evident que le Congo a besoin d'un nouveau leadership, comme vous l'ecrivez.

    Cependant, l'une de mes questions demeure pendante: je ne vois pas une claire strategie ou une alternative proposee aux Congolais acquis au leader de l'Opposition au cas ou le president sortant est declare vainqueur. Est-il possible d'eviter la violence inutile?

    Peut-etre parmi les compatriotes dans ce listing mail y a-t-il quelqu'un qui a une parole consensuelle…

    Deja les resultats "partiels" publies par la CENI sur le site de la radio Okapi (leur propre site ayant ete ferme) semblent etre different de resultats dits 'provisoires' que nous avions lu recemment:

    Reply
  11. Elizabeth Carter

    Thank you Eric. The Article is so well written and makes so much sense. I will
    pass it along.
    I would like to meet you
    Carter

    Reply
  12. Mbuyi Elisabeta

    Papa Eric, tuasakidila bua mukanda webe! Tuetue bana ba missionaires baledibue mu Congo, tudi nenu mu malu a onso. Vive Tshisekedi ne Vive le Congo!

    Reply
  13. Papa Sikila

    MON FRERE ERIC KAMBA

    AVEC PLAISIR JE VIENS DE LIRE VOTRE MESSAGE. JE SUIS CONGOLAIS DE FONCTION JE SUIS PASTEUR RÉSIDANT À L'ÉTRANGER.
    JE VOUS DEMANDE VRAIMENT DE AIDER LE PEUPLE CONGOLAIS QUI A VOTER MASSIVEMENT LE PRÉSIDENT TSHISEKEDI MAIS KABILA ET SON AMI SOIT DISANT PASTEUR, NGOY MULUNDA VEUT VOLER LA VICTOIRE DU PEUPLE CONGOLAIS, CE QUI EST IMPOSSIBLE ET DIFFICILE CAR CE PEUPLE EST DEVENU MATURE.

    SVP MONSIEUR AIDE NOUS POUR QUE KABILA LAISSE LE CONGOLAIS Á L'AISE, CAR DIEU JUGERA LES INJUSTES. KABILA A TUÉ PLUS DE 6.000.000 DES CONGOLAIS ET SANS COMPTER LES FEMMES VIOLÉES PAR SES SOLDATS QUI ONT TUÉS PLUS DE 18 PERSONNES Á LA VEUILLE DE L'ÉLECTION. D'AILLEUR IL N'EST PAS CONGOLAIS. NOUS NE VOULONS PAS QUE LE SANG COULE AU CONGO, TSHISEKEDI N'EST PAS BEMBA POUR QUE ON LE VOLE SA VICTOIRE, NOUS SOMMES PRET À MOURIR CETTE FOIS-CI.

    MERCI QUE DIEU VOUS BÉNISSE.

    Reply
  14. Papa Sikila

    Dear Eric,

    I read your article: Congo deserves a leader who cares about the Congolese people. I totally agree with everything you said. I am glad to know that we are all fighting for Justice and Peace in the Congo.

    Keep in touch,

    Prof. André Siamundele

    Reply
  15. Papa Sikila

    A TOUT LE MONDE,__NE DERANGEZ PERSONNE!__ NGOYI MULUNDA SAIT QUE TSHISEKEDI A GAGNE__VOICI LA NOTE QUE NOUS LUI AVONS FAITE
    Monsieur Mulunda____Je vous prie avec insistance à respecter le choix et la volonté du__peuple congolais__Si vous continuez avec la trichérie, le peuple congolais ne se laissera pas faire car il a voté pour le changement, Monsieur Etenne TSHISEKRDI en qualité du Président de la République Démocratique du Congo.____Salutations____Walser__

    Reply
  16. Dr Etienne KABONGO

    Ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui était prévisible. Car Mr Mulunda ne peut proclammer personne d’autre en dehors de l’ennemi du peuple congolais en la personne de KANAMBE alias Kabila comme vainqueur. Quel est alors le plan B? Que Obama nous montre qu’il est le vrai demoncrate.

    Reply
  17. Rev Emile Nkumu

    I am not a member of UDPS, I am from Bandundu. I have been living in the UK since 1989, I have been following with interest the situation in DRC, and went home 2 times. It is time for the international community mto give a chance for reconciliation in DRC. Ya tshi tshi has won the election, I spoke to friends across the regions . If This victory is stolen again, it will be a disaster. Thisekedi is a reliable old man with vision, he understands fully the international enviromental, its complexity, andd the needs of
    people of Congo. He inspires me as a catholic priest, he is simple, with high grounds moral, he is aware of the misery of so many who have been traumatised by death,inprisonments, rape,poverty, disease, living below the inacceptable poverty line in a country encowed naturally with wealth.

    Reply
  18. heritier smith

    we dont care about kabila, we hate him deeply
    we are ready to fight and spill our blood
    we are not scared , because many congolese died already
    we dont have choice, kabila must go
    we dont fucken like you man?
    get out of our country, autherwise your real father and mather in rwanda will cry for you,
    Just gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    Reply
  19. heritier nkoy

    Mr eric
    i'am so glad that we are all at the same mind position
    Drc congo is our country
    let's fight for it, Congolese people dont deserve kabila as a president
    it's a big, but we have to take it out of our country
    yersteday, we went all to pretoria at our ambassy almost 2000 people
    we were so cross and we broke the gate after that we pass by zuma south africa president at his office
    we had other people with no clothes in body ( i mean nuket) we saw zuma but its was terrible

    Reply
  20. Franck Talk II

    This guy is joking. Why is he interferring in a foreign country affairs? He is a US Amikan citizen and as such if he has a visas to enter, the DRC, he will do. The elections were hold Monday, November 28, but the candidate Kabila lost them 48 hours before (Saturday, November 26! (see photo: Lafayette Square). SF Bayview has been misused. For all Afrikans in the Afrika and in the diaspora the Congolese are BMW's (Beer – Music – Women):. The only things Congolese have in their in their mind are Beer, Musci and Women. The Congolese see the world trough Beer, Music and Women. What for a folk! They have never head about WE Dubois, Padmore, Nkrumah, Garvey, Malcolm X, Lumumba.

    Reply
  21. ESPRIT DE BAKONGO

    MISTER OBAMA AND SARKOZY,
    WITH ALL THE RESPECT I OW YOU ,I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR WHAT EVER GOODNESS YOU GAVE TO CONGOLESE PEOPLE,BUT YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT TIME HAVE CHANGED, PEOPLE ARE AWAY OF HOW YOU ARE SUPPORTING KABILA,TO REDUCE PEOPLE IN PAUVERTY,BUT LET ME TELL YOU THAT THIS TIME WE WILL FIGHT UNTIL WE DIES TO PROTECT OUR RESSOURCES,IF YOU ARE IN RECESSION,YOU MAY KNOW THAT GOD IS PUNISHING YOU,BECAUSE OF THE SLAVERY THAT YOU HAVE PUT CONGOLESE AND AFRICAN PEOPLE.

    Reply
  22. David Bolomewa

    A tous les hommes politique, leaders et chefs d’Etats. L’heure est venue de liberer le peuples congolais de leur exclavagisme, oppressions,miseres,dictature,corruption et mal governance. Laissez le congolais libre de manifester leur vrai choix a la person de Tshisekedi comme President du Congo- Zaire. Le choix est clair,respecter la vonlonte du peuple.

    Reply
  23. bubanje

    I am glad to hear Congolese people debating among themselves without blaming Kagame. Eric I enjoyed your work. Next time, don’t let people like Ann Garrison be part of you work. Her extreme and toxic views are well known.
    Ubuntu

    Reply

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