Saturday, 14 May 2011

It’s the elections, stupid!

‘It’s the elections, stupid!’ The paraphrase of a famous Bill Clinton campaign slogan sums up the priorities being discussed about current Congolese politics. The new ICG report ‘Congo: The Electoral Dilemma’ provides a clear picture of the overwhelming challenges facing the whole range of stakeholders: Congolese authorities, opposition groups, civil society and the country’s international partners.

According to the report, the government is confronted by the need to either respect the constitutional deadline and ‘botch’ the elections or postpone them and thus enter into a situation of constitutional illegality: some informed Western sources appear to prefer this option. In both circumstances, the government’s legitimacy will be subject to new criticism. While the report provides excellent analysis of the political situation (as well as technical, financial and logistical issues) its recommendations are less convincing because they would be difficult to implement on the Congolese political landscape. The recommendations do however emphasize the necessity for international partners (who are paying for the elections cost either directly or indirectly) to keep up the pressure on the government to guarantee transparency.

My view is that elections will be held more or less on schedule because Kabila plans on capitalizing on his efforts to consolidate power, a process that has been ongoing since he was elected five years ago. He needs to be re-elected before the opposition can get organized and present a viable candidate.

To read the latest ICG report, click below:

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