Sunday, July 10, 2016

UN Resolution 2277 and Congo's Political Impasse

On March 30, 2016, The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2277 (2016) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The resolution addressed a wide range of issues regarding the relationship between the UN and the Congolese government, particularly as it relates to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO. The resolution renewed the mandate of  the UN peace keeping mission in the Congo. However, the political section of the resolution has taken center stage in the increasing political and constitutional crisis unfolding in the DRC. Both the government and the opposition have hinged the vaunted dialogue on the political elements of the resolution. Both sides have latched on to elements of the resolution that serves them. Find below the articles of the resolution that addresses the political situation in the DRC:

Political Situation
“7.   Calls on the Government of the DRC and its national partners, including the CENI, to ensure a transparent and credible electoral process, in fulfilment of their primary responsibility to create propitious conditions for the forthcoming elections, including prioritization of those conditions necessary for the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November 2016 in accordance with the Constitution;

“8.   Urges the Government as well as all relevant parties to ensure an environment conducive to a free, fair, credible, inclusive, transparent, peaceful and timely electoral process, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution, which includes free and constructive political debate, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly, equitable access to media including State media, safety and freedom of movement for all candidates, as well as for election observers and witnesses, journalists, human rights defenders and actors from civil society including women;

“9.   Calls for the publication of a revised comprehensive electoral calendar for the full electoral cycle by the CENI and calls on the Government of the DRC to put swiftly in place an adequate electoral budget and an electoral code of conduct, and conduct without delay a credible update of the electoral register, to ensure the successful and timely holding of elections, in particular presidential and legislative elections on November 2016, in accordance with the Constitution, while respecting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and further calls upon all stakeholders, to engage into an open and inclusive political dialogue over the holding of presidential elections, in accordance with the Constitution;

“10.  Underlines the importance of ‎credible dialogue to ensure peaceful and credible presidential and legislative elections, in line with the Constitution, expresses support for the decision taken by the AU to undertake consultations on this dialogue, urges all national stakeholders to extend cooperation to the AU in this regard, and requests the Secretary-General to provide political support to these efforts consistent with this resolution, including through his good offices;


Click here for other resolutions from the UN, African Union, US, UK, African Union and others.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Commemorating the March for Peace

On today, February 16, 2016, Congolese commemorated the seminal "Peaceful March of Christians," with a shut down of cities (Ville Morte in French) throughout the country in protest of President Joseph Kabila's attempt to remain in power in contravention to the Congo's constitution. The Democratic Republic of Congo's constitution allows the President to serve only two five-year terms. Kabila served his first term from 2006 - 2011 and his second five-year term, which began in 2011 ends on December 19, 2016. However, President Kabila has repeatedly demonstrated through his actions and the words and actions of his surrogates that he aims to remain in power in spite of the dictates of the constitution. In response, the Congolese people have organized to assure that Kabila respects the constitution. Civil society and opposition forces issued a call for a "Ville Morte" and requested that people remain at home and abstain from commercial and other normal activities. By and large the Congolese population in several key cities throughout the country responded to the call and stayed home, especially in the nation's capital leaving the streets deserted for most of the day. The people have certainly sent a message to regime that they want the country's constitution respected and are willing to engage in civil disobedience if necessary to hold Kabila and his government accountable to the law of the land.

On February 16, 1992, Congolese Christians responded to a call by the Catholic Church to protest peacefully and demand the reopening of the Sovereign National Conference (Conference National Souveraine - CNS in French). The conference was a democratic forum composed of delegates who represented all layers of the society in the Congo (Zaire at the time) from members of civil society, political parties, the military, the diaspora, as well as the president himself (Mobutu Se Seko). This conference was tasked with interrogating the country’s history and finding a way to deal with the multidimensional national crisis (political, economic, social, cultural, and moral) that the country was facing in 1990.

On January 19, 1992, then-Mobutu-appointed prime minister Nguza Karl-I-Bond announced the suspension of the Sovereign National Conference on radio and television. This decision to suspend the CNS angered many Congolese who had high hopes that this democratic process would help the country extricate itself from dictatorial rule. The Catholic Church, which at the time distanced itself from Mobutu's regime and became more vocal about Mobutu's human rights abuse, made a call to all Christians and civil society groups for a massive demonstration to reopen the Sovereign National Conference. Thousands of marchers from all backgrounds converged on the Tata Raphaël stadium. Police and soldiers opened fire on the marchers before they could reach their destination, killing more than forty people. This incident, which caused international outcry as news began to enter the western world, forced the government to reinstate the CNS in April 1991 and served as a pivotal point in Congo's struggle toward democratization.

In his book "The History of the Congo," Dr Didier Gondola revisits this important date and give us the reason why Christians in the Congo took to the streets. He says: "In early 1992, Mobutu decided to disband the Sovereign National Conference (Conference Nationale Souveraine - CNS), an assembly whose main task was to create a new constitution and organize democratic elections. In response to this decision, strong opposition mounted among Kinshasa's independent churches. On February 16, 1992, thousands of church members took their grievances to the streets of the capital in what was dubbed by its organizers as the "March of Hope" (Marche de l'Espoir). Marchers held banners demanding the reopening of the CNS, and they chanted songs against violence and dictatorship. The peaceful march ended in a bloodbath when the army intervened and gunned down dozens of demonstrators. The March of Hope has since been held up as a major turning point in the relations between the church and state. It was also an event that precipitated the end of Mobutu's regime."

Monday, January 04, 2016

Martyrs Day: Congolese Youth Stand Up #Telema

January 4th is a seminal day in Congo’s history, which serves as a national holiday. On January 4, 1959, ordinary Congolese stood in defiance of Belgian colonialism demanding independence. Congolese in Kinshasa unleashed a spontaneous uprising out of frustration with the repressive Belgian colonial regime. In his critically acclaimed work "Congo: From Leopold to Kabila," Dr Georges Nzongola Ntalaja said the march on January 4, 1959 "sounded the death knell of Belgian Colonialism in the Congo." The unifying chant of the marchers was "Indépendance Immediate" or "Independence Now" in English. The uprising represented the radicalization of the struggle for independence. It frightened not only the Belgian authorities but also the Congolese elites know as évolués.

Nine days later on January 13, 1959 both the King of Belgium and the Belgium government announced that in due time Belgium would grant Congo full independence. In the conscience of the nation, the day represents the historic point of departure for the independence of the Congo from Belgian colonialism.

The courageous stance by that generation of Congolese served as a key catalyst for Congo’s independence in 1960. Since the 1960s Congolese have celebrated and commemorated that generation’s actions and named the day “la journée des martyrs de l’indépendance,” or in English, independence Martyrs Day. Without a doubt, Congolese of that era made enormous sacrifices for freedom and independence.

Congolese continue to make tremendous sacrifice for total independence and liberation from tyranny. The youth have been at the forefront of this fight. During 2015, Congolese youth paid the dearest price in confronting the tyrannical regime of president Joseph Kabila. The Kabila regime is seeking to remain in power against the will of the Congolese people and has demonstrated its willingness to kill, jail, disappear and suppress those who have called for the country's constitution to be respected. Below are some of the most egregious examples of the repressive actions of the Kabila regime against the youth of the Congo in 2015:

DRC: Deadly Crack Down on Protests
Human Rights Watch

Congo's Telema Protests
The Guardian

FILIMBI Youth Arrested by DRC Government
BBC News

Congolese Rapper and Musician Radek Supreme Arrested by Kabila Regime
Friends of the Congo

Youth Activist, Jean Marie Kalonji Kidnapped by Kabila Regime
Radio France International

Courageous Congolese continue to make enormous sacrifices for a better future for the sons and daughters of the Congo? Under the banner of the #Telema movement, youth have risen to resist tyranny, defend the country's constitution and advance the nascent democratic gains. The global community should stand in support and solidarity with the people of the Congo as they pursue peace, justice and human dignity.

Join the global movement in support of a peaceful and just Congo by visiting!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Libérez Jean Marie Kalonji

Libérez Jean Marie Kalonji
Par Kambale Musavuli
Porte-Parole de Friends of the Congo (Les Amis du Congo)

Mardi, le 15 Décembre 2015, le jeune activiste Jean Marie Emmanuel Le Roi Kalonji Ngbongolo (connu aussi sur le nom de Jean Marie Kalonji) a été kidnappé en plein jour par des hommes en tenue civile et brandissant des revolvers près de la Gare Centrale de Kinshasa en République démocratique du Congo. Ces hommes l’ont brutalisé et l’ont fait entrer dans une jeep Pathfinder bleu-sombre.

Sa famille était très inquiète à propos de son sort et bien-être. Sa location a été inconnue pendant plus d’une semaine. Le mardi 22 décembre, il a été trouvé dans une cellule de détention de l’Agence Nationale de Renseignements (ANR). Les agents de cette agence ont organisé un « examen de chefs d’accusation » où ils ont accusé que Mr. Kalonij sur Facebook était opposé contre le Dialogue national organisé par Joseph Kabila parce que le dialogue « met en cause la constitution de notre pays. »

Les agents ANR disent que ses activités avec les étudiants des universités ont été suivies depuis un certain temps et qu’ils étaient inquiets à propos de la proximité de ses relations avec le politicien de l’opposition congolaise Martin Faylulu. L’ANR a aussi ajouté qu’il semble que Jean Marie soit également proche d’un groupe de jeunes congolais à Goma ainsi qu’avec des groupes extérieurs au Congo travaillant pour le changement au sein de la société congolaise.

Jean Marie Kalonji est un activiste des Droits de l’homme de 29 ans, vivant à Kinshasa RDC. Il est détenteur d’un diplôme en droit international de l’Université libre de Kinshasa (ULK). Il est le coordinateur de Quatrième voix, une organisation de la société civile basée à Kinshasa. Il a organisé et mobilisé la jeunesse congolaise afin qu’elle comprenne son rôle et sa responsabilité en tant que citoyen en résolvant les questions locales du sanitaire publique à la politique électorale.

L’enlèvement de Jean Marie est le dernier parmi un nombre d’arrestation arbitraires effectuées de plus en plus par le régime de Kabila. Plusieurs jeunes congolais sont incarcérés sans charge pendant des mois puis torturée, comme ceci a été le cas avec l’artiste Hip hop Radek Supreme qui a été libéré la semaine dernière pour des raisons médicales et a porté plainte au parquet général pour torture enlèvement, séquestration et traitement inhumain à charge de l’ANR. Comme la famille de Jean Marie met en œuvre les moyens légaux pour obtenir sa libération, ils sont aussi sujets aux harassements et aux menaces provenant du régime Kabila.

Joignez-nous en exigeant la libération et la prise en compte de Jean-Marie Kalonji, Fred Bauma, Yves Makwambala et de tous las autres prisonniers politiques. Cliquer ici pour agir!

Pour plus d’information sur le mouvement de la jeunesse congolaise, visitez :

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Free Jean Marie Kalonji

Free Jean Marie Kalonji
Kambale Musavuli
Spokesperson, FOTC

On Tuesday, December 15, 2015, young Congolese activist Jean Marie Emmanuel Le Roi Kalonji Ngbongolo (known as Jean Marie Kalonji) was kidnapped in broad daylight by armed men in plain clothes brandishing pistols near Gare Centrale (main train station) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These men brutalized him and forced him into a dark blue, pathfinder jeep.

Jean Marie's family has been very concerned about his whereabouts and well being.  His location was not known for more than a week. On Tuesday, December 22nd, he was found in a holding cell at Congo’s National Intelligence Agency office (Agence Nationale de Renseignements - ANR). The agents in the office held a "Hearing of the Charges" session where they claimed that Mr. Kalonji posted on Facebook that he is against the national dialogue organized by president Joseph Kabila because it puts Congo’s constitution at risk.

The ANR agents said that his activities with college students have been monitored for quite a while and that they were concerned about his close association with Congolese opposition politician Martin Fayulu. The ANR also added that it appears that Jean-Marie was close to Congolese youth groups in Goma as well as groups outside of the Congo working for change within Congolese civil society.

Jean Marie Kalonji is a 29 year-old human rights activist based in Kinshasa, DRC. He holds a degree in International Law from Université Libre de Kinshasa (ULK). He is the coordinator of Quatrieme Voix , a civil society organization based in Kinshasa. He has organized and mobilized Congolese youth to understand their role and responsibility as citizens in resolving local issues from street sanitation to electoral politics.

Jean-Marie’s kidnapping is the latest among the increasing arbitrary arrests by the Kabila regime. Congolese youth are detained without any charges for months and subsequently tortured, just as was the case with popular Congolese hip hop artist Radek Supreme who was released last week for medical reasons but is feared to have been disappeared again. As Jean-Marie’s family pursue legal means of getting him released, they are also subjected to harassment and threats from the Kabila regime.

Join us in demanding the release and full accounting of Jean-Marie Kalonji, Radek Supreme, Fred Bauma, Yves Makwambala and all other political prisoners. Click here to take action!

For more information on Congo's youth movement, visit

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Le discours de Kabila, une voie vers le glissement ?

Le discours de Kabila, une voie vers le glissement ?
par Kambale Musavuli

En moins d’une année, ( Novembre 2016) la République démocratique du Congo ( DRC) va tenir des élections présidentielles et législatives. Cependant un nombre important d’incertitudes entoure l’organisation de ces élections, qui devraient de toute évidence  déboucher sur un nouveau président et marquer la première transition  paisible du pouvoir dans l’histoire du pays.  Le principal parti d’opposition du Congo, l’Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social [Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS)] a tenu des pourparlers avec le régime de Kabila afin d’organiser un dialogue national qui devrait comme nous l’espérons éviter la détérioration de la crise électorale actuelle.
(qui a été orchestrée par le régime de Kabila).

Le Président Kabila s’est adressé à la nation le samedi 28 novembre afin d’aborder le sujet du dialogue national. Plus tôt la même journée, le gouvernement de Kabila arrêtait une dizaine d’activistes à Goma. Ils marchaient paisiblement afin d’attirer l’attention sur  l’inadmissible perte de vie de la ville de Beni. Kabila a souligné cinq priorités pour la planification du dialogue national dans son discours à la nation.

1.    La crédibilité des listes électorales
2.    Le calendrier électoral
3.    La sécurité du processus électoral
4.    Le financement des élections
5.    Le rôle des partenaires internationaux

Le discours de Kabila a été marqué principalement par ce qu’il n’a pas dit. Il est resté silencieux sur la question de la fin de son mandat après décembre 2016, après l’achèvement de son second terme de cinq années comme défini dans la constitution du Congo. Kabila n’a pas précisé une date pour le dialogue, il s’est simplement référé à l’organisation d’un comité préparatoire. Il n’a pas assumé de responsabilité d’aucune sorte pour l’état actuel des affaires. Ce sont en fait Kabila et sa coalition majoritaire qui ont conduit à l’actuelle crise politique. 

Le discours du Président Kabila  était plus dans la ligne des mouvements récents qu’il a fait pour consolider  le pouvoir dans le cadre de sa présidence. Il a dit que le dialogue devrait prendre en considération des méthodes moins coûteuses d’élection. Pour beaucoup c’est le signal que Kabila a l’intention d’envisager des élections indirectes  à la place du vote populaire direct mandaté constitutionnellement.  Un regard détaché à l’histoire de Kabila révèle une perversion constante des lois nationales et de la réforme de la constitution afin de préserver et de consolider son pouvoir. L’exemple clef est la réforme constitutionnelle de 2011, qui a changé les élections présidentielles de deux tours à celle d’un tour où l’élu emporte tout, ce qui permet à un candidat de gagner la présidence avec moins de cinquante pour cent des votes.

Kabila s’adresse rarement au people congolais, ce discours est l’un parmi les rares où il a parlé directement à la nation cette dernière année. Il a pu être poussé à le faire et à faire face à la question du dialogue national à cause des pressions de l’UDPS. La tête de l’UDPS a posé un date limite le 30 Novembre pour organiser le dialogue nationale à défaut de quoi ils retireraient leur participation. 

La lentille à travers de laquelle on peut regarder le discours de Kabila est dans le contexte de ses essais effrénés pour rester au pouvoir à n’importe quel prix. L’organisation du dialogue national est la dernière et la probablement la plus faible tentative pour sécuriser un minimum de légitimité pour son maintien au pouvoir. Quelques unes des stratégies de Kabila pour rester au pouvoir comprennent 1. Amendement à la constitution – pendant les neuf premiers mois de 2014, il est apparu que c’était le principal moyen de Mr. Kabila pour rester au pouvoir. Sa coalition majoritaire a même essayé de forcer un amendement à la constitution  par l’intermédiaire du parlement en Septembre 2014 mais a échoué. Des forces consistantes et importantes à travers le Congo ( Société civile, Eglise catholique, opposition, jeunesse)  ainsi que la communauté internationale forcèrent Mr. Kabila a ajourner l’objectif de modifier complètement la constitution de façon à se maintenir au pouvoir. La demission force du Président du Burkina Faso Blaise Compaore par un mouvement populaire en Octobre 2014 alors qu’il cherchait à modifier la constitution de son pays a vraisemblablement lancé le signal du danger de sa tentative et de son aspect hasardeux à Kabila. 

2. Différer par l’intermédiaire du recensement et des lois électorales. – wavec la voie constitutionnelle bloquée, Mr. Kabila a ensuite tenté de modifier les lois électorales congolaises de façon à ce qu’un recensement ( de nombreux experts affirmant qu’il faudrait trois à quatre ans pour organiser un recensement, repoussant donc la tenue des élections au plus tôt en 2018) serait exigé avant l’organisation des élections. Un mouvement populaire a éclaté entre le 19 et le 22  Janvier 2015 à Telema, entraînant la mort de 42 personnes provoquée par les forces de sécurité de Kabila mais réussissant à repousser son effort. Le gouvernement a été forcé de retirer cette loi qui exigeait un recensement avant les élections.

3. Encombrer le calendrier électoral  - sous des pressions internes et externes croissantes  pour établir un calendrier pour les élections la Commission électorale nationale indépendante [Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI)] a publié un calendrier fantaisiste comprenant toutes les élections, des municipales aux présidentielles, donnant priorité aux régionales et aux municipales avant la fin de 2015. Aucune prévision dans ce calendrier n’a été respectée. De nombreuses figures de l’opposition ont argument que les municipales et régionales pouvaient attendre 2016, et donc libérer la programmation électorale afin d’organiser effectivement et complètement les élections présidentielles.

4. Création de nouvelles provinces (découpage) – Au milieu de la programmation des élections, la coalition majoritaire poussa vers une loi demandant le création de nouvelles provinces (de 11 à 26) par la constitution de 2006. La loi n’avait pas été mise en œuvre depuis huit ans que Kabila était au pouvoir sous l’actuelle constitution. (L’actuelle constitution a été ratifiée en Février 2006, cinq années après que Joseph Kabila ait pris le pouvoir, après l’assassinat de Laurent Désiré Kabila en 2001) De nombreux observateurs virent ceci comme une autre tentative de repousser les élections de 2016, considérant spécialement que la commission électorale n’était pas en position d’organiser des élections dans ces nouvelles provinces. En dernière analyse, les élections ne furent pas tenues dans ces provinces nouvelles, cependant, à travers un règlement controversé, Kabila fût à même de désigner des commissionnaires pour leur gestion.

5. Insuffisamment financer la commission électorale nationale : – La CENI a récemment declare qu’elle n’avait pas les moyens d’organiser des élections et plus tard a déclare que le gouvernement n’avait finance qu’un petit pourcentage du budget d’organisation des élections. La CENI dit que le gouvernement n’a financé que 24% du budget en 2014 et 22% depuis 2015. L’absence de support gouvernemental est considéré comme une des stratégies du régime de Kabila  pour ralentir le processus et atermoyer les élections comme un fait accompli. 

6. Le dialogue national – après avoir échoué à créer un consensus national lors de la consultation nationale de 2013, Kabila est revenu à un modèle identique sous le déguisement du dialogue national. Ceci représente ses dernières tentatives pour établir sa légitimité de se maintenir au pouvoir au-delà de Décembre 2016. Un partenaire peu probable dans ce dialogue est le principal parti de l’opposition l’UDPS. Une coalition de forces d’opposition sous le nom de"Dynamic for Unified Action of the Opposition [Dynamique pour l'unité d'actions de l'opposition] ainsi que le Group of Seven  or G7 ( un groupe dissident formé de partis différents de la majorité de Kabila) ont boycotté ce dialogue en le voyant justement comme une dernière tentative de Kabila pour se maintenir au pouvoir. En fait, le G7 et la Dynamique d’opposition ont appelé à des manifestations et accroissent leur pression sur le régime de Kabila afin qu’il respecte la constitution.

Afin de comprendre les racines de l’actuelle incertitude politique et de l’instabilité, il est vital que soit clair le but central de Kabila qui est de rester au pouvoir. Il sait qu’il ne peut se maintenir au pouvoir uniquement par la force, c’est pourquoi il tente n’importe quelle forme de légitimité dans sa folle poursuite du pouvoir. Ses options sont de plus en plus limitées et à la fin, ses démarches vont certainement échouer. Une des raisons majeure qui limite les options de Kabila est en partie due à la pression qu’exerce la population sur lui. Les Congolais de toutes obédiances sont unis dans leur determination de voir la constitution respectée et que le Président Kabila cede son siege en Décembre 2016. Il y a une insatisfaction presque totale à l’égard de son gouvernement et un accord étendu sur le fait qu’il doive respecter la constitution et abandonner la présidence. 

L’Eglise catholique (voir la declaration du 24 Novembre), l’opposition politique, le G7, les organisations de la société civile, les formations de la jeunesse et les anciens membres du parti politique de Kabila ainsi que le gouverneur de la province du Katanga, Moïse Katumbi  ont appelé la Président Kabila à respecter la constitution et à se retirer à la fin de son mandat.

La jeunesse a payé un prix particulièrement élevé en sang et en pertes humaines.  Elle a été abattue dans les rues, arrêtée, exile et privée de ses droits constitutionnels à se rassembler pacifiquement. Même lors du rassemblement bénin pour protester contre l’augmentation des frais de scolarisation, les forces de sécurité ont été appelées et ont lancé des gaz lacrymogènes tout comme cela avait été  fait récemment avec les étudiants de l’Institut supérieur d’architecture et d’urbanisme de Kinshasa.

Comme Joseph Kabila entre dans la dernière année de sa présidence, la pression s’accroît afin qu’il respecte la constitution et libère son siege en Décembre 2016. Les Congolais sont unis dans la défense de la constitution et la protection des avancées de la république naissante qui adviennent dans la période d’après-guerre de ce pays. Si les élections sont bien tenues en 2016n, ce sera grâce à la vigilance et à la pression provenant des filles et des fils du Congo.
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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Kabila's Speech: Path to Glissement?

Kabila's Speech: Path to Glissement?1
Kambale Musavuli, Spokesperson

In less than one year (November 2016), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is supposed to organize presidential elections. However, a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounds the organizing of the elections, which would ostensibly usher in a new president and mark the first peaceful transition of power in the history of the country. Congo's main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) had been in talks with the Kabila regime to organize a national dialogue that would hopefully, help to avoid a worsening of the current electoral crisis (one that is being orchestrated by the Kabila regime).

President Kabila spoke to the nation on Saturday, November 28th to address the matter of the national dialogue.  Earlier on the same day, Kabila's government arrested about a dozen activists in Goma. They were marching peacefully to bring attention to the unconscionable loss of life in the city of Beni.  Kabila outlined five priorities for the planned national dialogue in his speech to the nation:
1. Credible voters roll
2. Electoral calendar
3. Secure electoral process
4. Financing of the elections
5. The role of international partners

Kabila's speech was marked mostly by what he did not say. He was silent on the question of whether he would step down in December 2016 upon the completion of his second five-year term per Congo's constitution. Kabila did not specify a date for the dialogue, he merely referenced the organizing of a preparatory committee.

President Kabila's speech was more in alignment with recent moves he has made to consolidate power in the presidency. He said that the dialogue should take into consideration less costly methods of electing leaders. For many, this is a signal of Kabila's intentions to have the president of the country elected indirectly as opposed to the constitutionally mandated direct popular vote. A sober look at Kabila’s history reveals a consistent perversion of the country’s laws and constitution to preserve and consolidate power. The quintessential example is the constitutional reform of 2011, that changed the presidential elections from two rounds to a single round winner take all which, allowed a candidate to win the presidency with a less than 50 percent of the vote.

Kabila rarely speaks to the Congolese people; this speech is one of the few times he has spoken directly to the nation in the past year. He may have been prompted to address the people and the question of the national dialogue due to pressure from the UDPS. The UDPS leadership issued a November 30th deadline for organizing a national dialogue otherwise they would withdraw their participation.

The lens through which one must view Kabila's address to the nation is in the context of his dogged pursuit to remain in power by any means necessary. The organizing of a national dialogue is the latest and probably weakest attempt to secure a modicum of legitimacy for his holding on to power. Some of the schemes that Kabila has pursued to legitimize remaining in power include:

1. Amendment of the constitution - during the first nine months of 2014, it appeared that this was Mr. Kabila's main path for remaining in power. His majority coalition even tried to force a constitutional amendment through parliament in September 2014 but failed. Consistent and strong push back from forces within the Congo (civil society, Catholic Church, Opposition, youth) and the international community forced Mr. Kabila to table the goal of outright changing the constitution in order to extend his stay in office. The ousting of Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore by a popular uprising in October 2014 when he tried to change his country's constitution, most likely sent a signal to Kabila that such a path would be an arduous and dangerous one.

2. Delay via census & electoral law - with the constitutional change path blocked, Mr. Kabila then attempted to change Congo's electoral law so that a census (many experts contend that it would take three to four years to organize a census, hence, pushing the elections to at earliest 2018) would be required before organizing elections. A popular uprising dubbed #Telema, from January 19 - 22, 2015 that resulted in at least 42 dead at that hand of Kabila's security forces succeeded in pushing back on this effort. The government was forced to withdraw the law that would require a census before holding of elections.

3. Stacking the electoral calendar - Under increasing internal and external pressure to establish a calendar for the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) published an unrealistic calendar for elections ranging from local to presidential, prioritizing the local and provincial elections before the end of 2015. None of the scheduled local and provincial elections have been held. Many opposition figures have argued that the local and provincial elections should be shelved until after the Presidential and legislative elections in 2016, hence freeing up the electoral schedule to competently and effectively organize the elections.

4. Implementation of new provinces (découpage) - In the midst of scheduling elections, Kabila's majority coalition rammed through a law requiring the installation of new provinces (from 11 to 26) per the 2006 constitution. The law had not been acted upon in over eight years since Kabila had been in power under the current constitution (The current constitution was ratified in 2006, five years after Joseph Kabila had been in power, after taking over after the assassination of Laurent desire Kabila in 2001). Many observers saw this as yet another attempt to ultimately delay the 2016 elections, especially considering that the electoral commission was not in a position to organize elections in these new provinces. In the final analysis, elections were not held in the new provinces, however, through a controversial ruling from the Constitutional Court, Kabila was able to appoint commissioners to run the new provinces.

5. Underfunding the National Electoral Commission - The CENI recently declared that it did not have the means to organize elections and later claimed that the government had only funded a small percentage of the budget for organizing the elections. The CENI says that the government only funded 24% of the budget in 2014 and 22% so far in 2015. The lack of government support for the CENI is regarded as a part of the strategy on the part of the Kabila regime to slow the process and make a delay in the elections a fait accompli.

6. National dialogue - after failing to arrive at a national consensus from the national consultations of 2013, Kabila has returned to a similar playbook under the guise of a national Dialogue.  This represents his latest attempt to establish legitimacy for staying in power beyond December 2016. An unlikely partner in this Dialogue is leading opposition party UDPS. A coalition of opposition forces under the name "Dynamic for Unified Action of the Opposition"(Dynamique pour l’unité d’actions de l’opposition in French) and the Group of Seven  or G7 (a breakaway group of political parties within Kabila’s majority coalition) have boycotted the dialogue as they rightly see it as the latest scheme on the part of the Kabila regime to hold on to power. In fact, both the G7 and the “Dynamique de l’opposition” have called for demonstrations and increased pressure on the Kabila regime to respect the constitution.

Vital to understanding the roots of the current political uncertainty and instability in the DRC, is to be clear that the central aim of Joseph Kabila is to remain in power. He knows that he cannot hold on to power solely by force, hence he is in a mad pursuit to establish any form of legitimacy to justify holding on to the presidency. His options are increasingly limited and in the end, his schemes are likely to fail. A major reason why Kabila’s options are limited is due in large part to the pressure being put on him by the population. Congolese across the board are unified in their determination to assure that the constitution be respected and that President Kabila steps down in December 2016. There is near total dissatisfaction with the leadership of his government and widespread agreement that he must respect the constitution and step down from the presidency.

The Catholic Church (see November 24th declaration), the political opposition, the G7, civil society organizations, youth formations, respected and popular surgeon, Dr. Dennis Mukwege, former member of Kabila’s political party and governor of the old Katanga province, Moise Katumbi, have all called on President Kabila to respect the constitution and step down at the end of his term.

The youth have paid a particularly dear price in blood and loss of life. Young people have been gunned down in the streets, arrested, driven into exile and deprived of their constitutional right to peacefully assemble. Even when students assemble for benign aims such as a protest against a hike in school fees, the security forces are called out to tear gas them as was done recently with the students from the Superior Institute for Architecture and Urbanism in Kinshasa.

As Joseph Kabila enters the final year of his presidency, the pressure will increase on him to respect the constitution and step down in December 2016. Congolese are united in the defense of the constitution and the protection of the nascent democratic advances that have occurred during the post-war period of the country. If elections are in fact held in 2016, it will be due to the vigilance and pressure coming from the sons and daughters of the Congo.
Notes: 1. Glissement  - French word which means to stretch out, slide or shift. In the context of the political situation in the DRC, it appears that President Kabila would like to stretch out the electoral process beyond his constitutional mandate, which ends in December 2016.