The Africa Security Initiative, part of the Brookings Centre for 21st Century Security and Intelligence the hosted on 15 August 2016 an event focused on the DRC. President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Africa Great Lakes region, Thomas Perriello, shared his thoughts and experiences on the situation. His Excellency François Balumuene, Ambassador of the DRC to the United States, offered his insights. Anthony Gambino, a former USAID mission director for the Democratic Republic of Congo, joined Special Envoy Perriello and Ambassador Balumuene. Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings senior fellow, moderated the discussion.
The full discussion can be viewed here.
Gambino stressed that failure to hold elections within the constitutionally prescribed timeless has now led to a “crisis entirely manufactured” by the regime and could have avoided. He underscored that DRC constitutional provisions were crystal-clear on the need to have a new president by 19 December 2016 when incumbent president Kabila second term ends. He however conceded that it would be impossible to have polls in 2016 and it would be critical to agree on a modus operandi so as to have elections “as early as possible in 2017”.
Ambassador Balumuene attributed the impossibility to hold polls in 2016 to lack of funds due to reallocation of limited budgetary resources to contain insecurity in eastern DRC and the recent fall in the prices of commodities, chiefly copper which the country heavily relies on. He urged the international community “to avoid an implosion of the DRC that would adversely affect the region and the continent”, advising “we must avoid a second Libya in Africa”.
Special Envoy Perriello recognised that apportioning blame on who is responsible for the crisis looming at the horizon would not be the right course action. He indicated that scraping constitutional term limit affects stability saying that “countries where incumbents try to change the rules to stay in power, those countries are five times more likely to face violence and instability”.
Perriello still expressed hope that “It is not past the point where DRC could have its first peaceful democratic transition in the history of the country”. This would depend on how the dialogue being facilitated by Edem Kodjo will pan ou