In “No Man’s Land” There are no Elections

The following is an article from the Bokamoso Leadership Forum. Bokamoso seeks to groom Africa’s emerging leaders apt to face Africa’s challenges of the 21st century. 

by Patrick Litanga

After some times of uncertainty the CENI (the National Independent Electoral Commission) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was able to schedule the presidential and the congressional elections for November 28. Therefore, and if there are no changes, in about three months Congolese will be electing their “new political leaders.” Frankly, it might appear absurd to talk about elections in the DRC since the government does not control certain parts of the national territory, and therefore the upcoming elections might mean nothing for Congolese who are under the control of militias and foreign rebel groups. For instance, parts of eastern Congo are still unstable, polluted by militias and rebel groups. These armed groups include Ugandans rebels of the LRA, the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) the Burundian FNL (National Liberation Forces), and scores of Congolese militias.

For instance, since Monday August 29 in the province of South Kivu there have been brutal fights between the FDLR and a Congolese militia group named Raia Mutomboki. Local civil society organizations and humanitarian agencies report that villages are burnt and people are dispersed; so far the death toll is unknown. Therefore, it is fitting to speculate that the November elections are irrelevant for some Congolese of eastern Congo. Not only have their voices been silenced for years, but they are also exposed to forced labor, daily rapes, and murders.

[…] Why are regional actors and the international community reluctant to forcefully deal with local and foreign rebels in eastern Congo? Are we waiting for the FDLR to attack Rwanda before actively engaging them? Meanwhile, when Congolese will be electing their “new leaders” in November, there will be no elections in some parts of eastern Congo. In fact, in “no man’s land” there are no elections.

Read the full article at Bokamoso

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