Congo : Is Democratic Change Possible ?
This report analyses the tense context in which the upcoming elections are to take place. Several risks are identified, linked to the sudden developments in the decentralisation process, the slow and non-consensual preparation of an overly ambitious electoral calendar as well as divisions within the ruling majority. It suggests different actions and steps for domestic, regional and international actors to avoid a new crisis in the country that would seriously affect the entire sub-region. With approximately one and a half years to go to the next national elections, DRC, which has only experienced multiparty elections in 1960, 2006 and 2011, is again entering turbulent waters. The president – in power since 2001 – is at the end of his second and last constitutional term, creating significant tension throughout the country, not least within the governing majority, which is deeply divided about how to deal with this prospect. Ever since the controversial 2011 elections, large segments of the population have mobilised against government attempts to maintain power. In January 2015, protests against a new electoral law descended into violence. In this long pre-electoral context, the government’s attention has to a large degree been captured by strategies either to amend the constitution or create legal obstacles to delay the inevitable. Now the focus is shifting to complex preparations for local, provincial, senatorial, legislative and presidential polls. Seemingly responding to constitutional obligations and commitments within the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) agreed for DRC and the region in 2013, the government has embarked on an overly ambitious implementation of a decentralisation process that has been stalled for years.