Congo’s Elections- Making or Breaking the Peace
As the Congo approaches its first free elections in 40 years, the stability of the country remains at risk, for three main reasons. First, one of the main former rebel groups, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), is unpopular and stands to lose most of its power at the polls: this has triggered a resurgence of violence in the east, which is likely to intensify before and after elections, as dissident RCD troops attack the newly integrated national army. Secondly, the vote has not been adequately prepared. With few safeguards in place against fraud, rigged polls could rapidly undermine stability after the elections and produce unrest in cities. Thirdly, the country’s long-time political opposition, Etienne Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), will boycott the voting, unhappy with the other main parties’ unwillingness to negotiate with it. This is likely to cause unrest in the two Kasai provinces and Kinshasa, where Tshisekedi enjoys substantial support.