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Congo’s Ripoff: How Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame Stole Congolese Elections

The Electoral Commission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) known as CENI has declared the incumbent President Joseph Kabila the winner of November 28, 2011 elections. According to the CENI, he obtained 49% of the vote against 32% for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.
The rather “expected-unexpected” results appear to have thrown the Congolese people and Congolese experts in intellectual, diplomatic and political limbo, leaving them to wonder what comes next.
From the initial results early this month, it appeared that Etienne Tshisekedi was predicted to win the people’s votes, but lose the certification of official election results(see our December 2 article here).
The electoral commission, the police and the supreme court all belong to Joseph Kabila. In fact, the national police (PNC) is led by a former Rwandan backed CNDP/RCD rebel turned Joseph Kabila’s right hand man, General Charles Bisengimana; the CENI is led by Joseph Kabila’s spiritual confident Reverend Daniel Ngoy Mulunda and the core of the army is basically the Presidential guard in the West and the Rwanda-backed rebels, ex-CNDP, led by an indicted war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda. The Chief justice presiding over the Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Supreme court that would certify the results is also a Joseph Kabila’s appointee. Most of the supreme court judges were also appointed by Joseph Kabila just before the elections.

Mr Etienne Tshisekedi has, as expected, rejected the results and declared himself president. He had initially said that he would respect the official decision. Apparently he had forgotten that the decision would come from the powers mentioned above, rather than the people’s voices. What is certain now is the tension and uncertainty across the DRC, with the three powers pitted against the power from the streets.

What Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi failed to realize is that the decision was foregone since the talk of elections themselves. AfroAmerica Network has learned from sources within the Congolese and Rwandan government how the strategy was elaborated in the capital of the tiny neighbor Rwanda two years ago and submitted to Joseph Kabila by the current Rwandan Minister of Defense, General James Kabarebe then Rwandan Military Joint Chief of Staff. The strategy included several phases:

  • Control the East: this step led the Rwanda sending back the troops to Kivu in 2009. The official reasons was to hunt down Rwandan rebels. After the intervention, the Kivus were left in the hands of Rwandan proxies within the Congolese army, FARDC, including General Bosco Ntaganda. As a small reward, Joseph Kabila sacrificed the so called Kisangani and Rome process between the Congolese Government and the Rwandan rebels of National Democratic Congress, which includes Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana) and Rally for the Rwandan People. The decision to invite Rwandan troops into DRC was so controversial and created an outcry that led to the resignation of Joseph Kabila’s former right hand man: the Speaker of the parliament Vital Kamerhe who had been instrumental in 2006 Joseph Kabila’s election.
  • Change in the constitution and the electoral law to have only one round presidential polls. This would make sure that if Joseph Kabila were to be elected by the Kivus and Katanga alone he could be ahead of all the other candidates. Unfortunately, Vital Kamerhe in South-Kivu and Mbusa Nyamwisi, a former rebel turned Joseph Kabila’s ally and then appointed Minister, in North Kivu, ended up running against Joseph Kabila and hence spoiling the plan in the Kivus.
  • Appoint somebody from Etienne Tshisekedi’s province of West Kasai. They found Evariste Boshab, who was President Joseph Kabila’s Chief of Staff during the transition period before the 2006 elections and who had led President Kabila’s PPRD, which headed the coalition government, since 2007. Evariste Boshab replaced Vital Kamerhe, becoming the Speaker of the Parliament and the leader of the political alliance supporting Joseph Kabila.

Given the difficulties with the two decisions, Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila came up with an ingenious plan: Force the east to vote for Joseph Kabila and use the Congolese government and military institutions to rig the election results.

To force the East to vote for Joseph Kabila was easy: send Rwandan troops wearing FARDC and Congolese police uniforms to areas known to be hostile or not welcoming to Joseph Kabila or likely to vote for Etienne Tshisekedi, Mbusa Nyamwisi or Vital Kamerhe.

Unfortunately, the areas were mostly controlled by Rwandan rebels who a had a bone to grind with Joseph Kabila that they view as a traitor following the Kamina failed process and how he destroyed the Kisangani and Rome roadmaps. Joseph Kabila tried to have peace talks with the Rwandan rebels known as Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) in late 2010 and early 2011. He even went to length of paying them hundreds of thousands of US dollars to get them onto his side. The talks went nowhere and he lost the money. It is partly because the Rwandan rebels resisted Joseph Kabila’s seductions that Mai-Mai Cheka assassinated the Rwandan rebel commander Colonel Sadiki. Before the assassination, Mai-Mai Cheka had spent a few weeks in the town of Gisenyi working with Rwandan intelligence operatives (see our article here on the assassination of Colonel Sadiki by Mai-Mai Cheka ) and Mai-Mai Cheka as indicted war criminal here.
Since the institutions belonged to Joseph Kabila, using them was easy. The urns will be stuffed by filled ballots and the counts will be controlled as follows:

  • Make sure that the ballots from Katanga, from where Joseph Kabila hails and Maniema where ex-CNDP and Rwandan troops have good control are counted first. Since Joseph Kabila was expected to lead in these areas, this would prepare the public and international opinion.
  • Count the ballots from Province Oriental known as Wide Wild East second. This area, where the notorious Ugandan warlord rules, and FARDC do the rest, is like a black box, where the rule of law is almost inexistent and the ballots were stuffed at will. Hence, Joseph Kabila, through his army and police apparatus, was already a “winner” before the vote started.
  • Count the Equator where the Mobutists, including the son of the late Congolese dictator Joseph Desire Mobutu and his former prime Minister Kengo Wa Ndondo ran almost unopposed. This would show that Etienne Tshisekedi was unelectable.
  • Count Kinshasa and the Kasai provinces (East and West) last, when the public opinion has already given up on Tshisekedi.
    • The belief was that once the public opinion is won, the electoral commission and the supreme court would have it easy in publishing and certifying the results showing Joseph Kabila’s victory, and the police and Joseph Kabila’s National Guard would take care of a few disgruntled Etienne Tshisekedi’s militants.

      But in real life, things are never simple. And unfortunately, DR Congo is rich in minerals and other resources, including gold, uranium, timber, diamond and coltan, which is used in mobile phones, which attracts all sorts of adventurers and fortune seeking individuals and criminal networks. Hence, Congolese, used to years of conflict, looting, embezzlement, corruption, invasion may not mind another conflict by challenging the authority and legitimacy of Joseph Kabila.
      By rejecting election results and declaring himself the sole and legitimate President of the Democratic Republic of the COngo (DRC), Etienne Tshisekedi has already set the tone of things to follow.
      while dismissing the results of the elections as an “outright provocation to our people”, he declared he considers himself “from this day on as the elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” and urged people he calls his “fighters” “to stick together as one man behind [him] to face the events that will follow.”

      Already, the international community, worried of things to come has hurried once again to the rescue. The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court warned that those responsible for violence may face criminal charges. Joseph Kabila’s troops have killed dozens of Tshisekedi’s militants in violences that preceded the polls.

      African Union leaders, perhaps worried that this can happen in their not so clean respective corners, have obviously given a stamp of approval to Joseph Kabila.

      On the other side, the European Union observers insisted that the polls were marred by “numerous irregularities, sometimes serious”.

      The regular congolese appears not to known what to do next, Some have packed a few belongings and left the country. Others have barricaded themselves inside their houses. Militants and the military are eying each other in a cat and mouse game to follow.

      ©2011 AfroAmerica Network. All rights reserved.

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