Electoral Poker in DR Congo
Elections this year in the DRC are now a real possibility. While scepticism as to the government’s intentions is certainly warranted, a critical but constructive approach by international actors stands the greatest chance of nudging President Kabila and the DRC toward an orderly transfer of power. Recent diplomatic efforts by regional leaders, which may have partly motivated Kabila’s apparent move toward elections, could provide a base for renewed African and Western pressure to hold Congolese authorities to the timeline and take steps to make the vote more credible. Further delays, a botched vote or balloting widely viewed as unfair would risk entrenching a regime with too narrow a base and too little popular legitimacy to tackle the enormous challenges the DRC faces. This outcome would fuel further instability in the country and region. There is still a long way to go, and there are many questions surrounding the polling. But Congolese authorities have taken some positive steps over the past few months. International and regional actors should seize this opportunity to push hard for a peaceful transition.