The Rendon Group Snapshot – 24 October 2016

by TRG Alerts Admin on October 31, 2016

The Rendon Group

(24OCT16)

Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.

Democratic Republic of Congo Elections Deferred, Presidential Term Limit Challenged

congoCongolese civilians hold placards and face anti-riot policemen during a demonstration over plans by President Joseph Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his term in DEC16. (AFP)

This week’s snapshot focuses on the latest development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) presidential term limit crisis. President Joseph Kabila has held office since 2001 after controversial electoral victories in 2006 and in 2011. The constitution of the DRC prevents Kabila from running for a third term, after his second term ends in December. For nearly two years there have been hints that President Kabila plans to exceed constitutional term limits. In JAN15, Kabila attempted to introduce a law which required a national census before elections could be held. In the same year, the Kabila government claimed that elections could not be held as the country was not ready for polls. These and other signals from Kinshasa were seen as delaying tactics and have invited criticism both at home and from the international community. On 31JUL16, Congo’s opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi called for elections to be held by the end of the year. Since then, tensions between opposing parties and deadly violence in the streets have caused growing concern among observers and international government organizations. While the threat of ‘presidents-for-life’ is not unique to the DRC among African states,  the stakes for rising instability can be high. The DRC is just recovering from the First and Second Congo Wars, which included intervention by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda. According to the Fragile States Index 2016, a project by the Fund For Peace, the DRC ranks 8th globally, designating it to the category of ‘very high alert’.

News summary of events during the week of 17OCT16 – 24OCT16

  • 17OCT: The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) sent a team to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to urge restraint after more than 50 people died in protests against President Kabila. (AFP)
  • 18OCT: French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault criticized the decision of the Constitutional Court in Democratic Republic of Congo to approve a petition to delay a presidential election, allowing President Joseph Kabila to remain in office until APR18. (Reuters)
  • 18OCT: The United Nations moved hundreds of peacekeepers from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to Kinshasa to help deal with a possible outbreak of violence over the postponement of a presidential election. (AFP)
  • 19OCT: The Congolese capital Kinshasa was shut down by a strike after the country’s main opposition party, the UDPS, called the deal signed between the authorities and fringe opposition groups a “flagrant violation” of the constitution. (AFP)
  • 20OCT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope that a political deal reached in the Democratic Republic of Congo to delay elections will help improve human rights and lead to a credible vote. (AFP)
  • 21OCT: The UDPS, led by veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, officially voiced rejection of the deal while French FM Ayrault said the election postponement plan was “no response to the crisis”. (AFP)
  • 21OCT: The United Nations human rights office said Congo’s security forces killed at least 48 people during anti-government opposition protests last month, using excessive force that also injured at least 140 people. (AP)
  • 24OCT: President Joseph Kabila visited Angola for a summit focusing on the issues in the Congo, hoping to shore up support for his policies and delayed election. (Reuters)
  • 24OCT: Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi, chief diplomatic adviser to DRC President Joseph Kabila, published an opinion piece in Forbes magazine arguing that Western pressure for the DRC to hold the scheduled elections would be counterproductive, as the country was not ready to conduct a fair election. (Forbes)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the political crisis in DRC

  • @SeverineARSeverine Autesserre, Peace and Conflict Researcher / Chercheur. Associate Prof at Columbia University (Barnard). Author of Peaceland and The Trouble with the Congo.
  • @ida_sawyerIda Sawyer, Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch
  • @woudenaAnneke VanWoudenberg, Human Rights Watch
  • @CohenOnAfricaHerman J. Cohen, Former Ambassador, Asst. Secretary of State. Author, The Mind of the African Strongman.
  • @ThomasNicolonThomas Nicolon, France24 DRC correspondent.

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the the political crisis in DRC

Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center For Strategic Studies

“That ambiguity was seized on by President Kabila’s party…[It] put a petition to the constitutional court, members of which were appointed by Kabila, and they ruled that he should stay in power until the new elections can be organized and a new leader is identified.”

  • “How Long Will DRC Allow President Kabila to Remain in Office?”, VOA, 10OCT16

Antoine Glaser, French journalist and Africa specialist

“Kabila is using the domino effect: one lapse in the electoral calendar could lead to another. By staying in power until the next elections, he has the possibility of delaying the election date again and again.”

  • “DR Congo political crisis deepens as presidential vote postponed”, France24, 18OCT16

Patrick Wata, director of a human-rights organization based in the central market in Kinshasa

“We want to honor those that have fallen on Sept. 19 for the cause of the motherland…It is our responsibility to denounce those who do not want to respect the constitution.”

  • “Congo Opposition Parties Begin Nationwide Strike Over Vote”, Bloomberg, 19OCT16

Ida Sawyer, DRC researcher for Human Rights Watch

“As of now, we’ve confirmed that at least 56 people were killed by security forces…And we’ve received credible reports of over 30 other victims killed by security forces, and we’re still working to verify those reports.”

  • “Rights Monitors, DRC at Odds Over Death Toll in September Protests”, VOA, 21OCT16

Ahmed Salim, senior associate at political risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence

“It’s just a volatile situation [in DRC]…We may have a perfect storm of events that may destabilize the economy as well as the political outlook for the country.”

  • “DR Congo: Third Term Fears Mount As Court Clears Kabila To Remain In Power If Elections Delayed”, Newsweek, 12MAY16

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the the political crisis in DRC

  1. DR Congo opposition rejects bid to postpone poll to 2018

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 21 October 2016

Kinshasa, Oct 21, 2016 (AFP) – The Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition party firmly rejected a deal signed Tuesday which would keep President Joseph Kabila in power until 2018 by postponing this year’s presidential vote until April 2018.

The UDPS, led by veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, “rejects” the proposal to delay the vote as a “flagrant violation” of the constitution, the party’s secretary-general Jean-Marc Kabund told AFP.

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  1.  France says Congo election delay not answer to crisis

Media: Reuters

Byline: John Irish

Date: 18 October 2016

PARIS (Reuters) – A decision to push back presidential elections in Democratic Republic of Congo to 2018 is not the answer to the crisis there and risks fuelling an escalation in violence, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

“There is only way to get out of the crisis and that is that president does not present himself and arranges elections,” Ayrault told reporters a day after the delay was approved by a constitutional court.

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  1. Congo security forces killed 48 protesters, UN report says

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 21 October 2016

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The United Nations human rights office says Congo’s security forces killed at least 48 people during anti-government opposition protests last month, using excessive force that also injured at least 140 people.

The U.N.’s rights office in Congo said in a report Friday that 53 people died in two days of violence, including four police officers. It also said security forces unlawfully arrested 299 civilians.

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  1. UN beefs up peacekeeping force in DR Congo capital

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 18 October 2016

United Nations, United States, Oct 18, 2016 (AFP) – The United Nations is moving hundreds of peacekeepers from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to Kinshasa to help deal with a possible outbreak of violence over the postponement of a presidential election, UN officials said Tuesday.

About 300 soldiers and police from the MONUSCO force will be stationed in Kinshasa, where violent protests killed 49 last month, the officials said.

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  1. CC sends mission to DR Congo to urge ‘restraint’

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 17 October 2016

The Hague, Oct 17, 2016 (AFP) – The chief prosecutor of the world’s only permanent war crimes court said Monday she has sent a team to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to urge restraint after weeks of deadly unrest.

More than 50 people died in clashes in the capital Kinshasa in September as the opposition called on President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, to step down.

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