Elections are too expensive, so we may not have one this year – Congo Government

The ruling government in Congo has indicated it may not hold long-awaited elections this year.

Why? It’s simply too expensive, a government official suggested this week

“It will be difficult to think that we can mobilize $1.8 billion this year,” Pierre Kangudia Mbayi, minister of state in charge of budget, said at a news conference Wednesday, Africa News reported. “At this stage, I prefer to keep a language of sincerity.”

That $1.8 billion cost was the one estimated by Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) last year.

It is certainly a large amount of money — almost two-thirds the estimated cost of America’s 2016 presidential vote, despite a vast difference in economic size between the countries. However, election officials say funds are needed to register more than 30 million voters in a vast country with poor transport links that has not held regular elections. CENI had already announced late last year that it doubted it would be able to register all voters before 2018.

These explanations are unlikely to placate critics of current leader Joseph Kabila, who has led been president of Congo since his father was assassinated in 2001. Kabila was due to step down at the end of his second term in November, and the country’s constitution bars a third term.

Opinion polls show most Congolese want him to step down and make way for a new leader.

But Kabila has refused to leave office until a new president is chosen, a decision later upheld by a constitutional court viewed as loyal to the president. The delayed elections have sparked a political crisis in the country. In the sprawling capital of Kinshasa, scattered demonstrations against Kabila were put down by soldiers and police; at least 20 people died in the ensuing violence.

While a deal was eventually reached to hold elections before the end of 2017, Mbayi’s comments suggest that further delays may be coming.

The situation in Congo highlights a broader issue across sub-Saharan Africa: leaders who won’t step down. Across the continent, there are widespread examples of governments flouting term limits and other standard democratic practices so they can retain power, sometimes for decades.

Even when these leaders are compelled to leave office, they often don’t give up without a fight: Yahyah Jammeh, president of the Gambia for 22 years, lost a reelection bid but left office only after West African troops threatened to oust him by force.

Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation, has never had a peaceful handover of power, and it was plagued by conflict for many years in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Tensions between Kabila’s government and its opposition have been strained further by the death of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi last month.

It is true that the country’s economic problems are very real. According to one estimate, many Congolese citizens live on $2 a day despite the country’s vast mineral resources. But Kabila himself is estimated to have made a large fortune out of his time in office, with hundreds of millions of dollars funneled to his family, according to a Bloomberg News investigation.


Source: Washington Post

Congo ruling party signs deal to end President Kabila’s rule.

After weeks of negotiations, Congo’s ruling party signed a deal with opposition leaders that aims to end President Joseph Kabila’s 15-year-rule.

National institutions such as the national monitoring committee now need to ensure an inclusive process that involves all political role-players, government spokesman, Lambert Omalanga, told local media on Sunday.

The accord, which was mediated by the Catholic Church in Congo and signed late on Saturday night, allows Kabila to remain president until elections are held by the end of 2017.

The agreement comes after months of protest against Kabila’s staying in power beyond his second term. Dozens of demonstrators have been killed.

Kabila would normally have relinquished power on December 19 at midnight, but the elections due in November were postponed to April 2018, citing logistical problems.

On December 19, Kabila announced a transitional government that had been agreed with part of the opposition.

It was not accepted by the main opposition parties which regard the postponement of the elections as a ploy for the president to stay in power beyond the two terms allowed by the constitution.

Saturday’s agreement “must allow for full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

“Too many victims and arbitrary arrests have been observed in recent weeks,” Federica said.

Observers fear increasing unrest in the central African nation which has been unstable since the fall of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, with dozens of armed groups currently vying for power in the mineral-rich east of the country.

Militants attack East Congo as President Kabila’s term expires.

Militiamen in eastern Congo attacked a prison on Monday, engaging in gun battle with security forces amid heightened tensions as President Joseph Kabila’s last term in office ends.

Report said no election was held to choose a successor to Mr. Kabila , whose mandate had expired and opponents said it was an attempt to cling to power in defiance of the constitution.

Fabrice Kakubuzi, a local activist in the eastern city of Butembo told journalists that “since early morning on Monday, there have been incursions by the Mai Mai militia.

“They wanted to liberate prisoners at the central prison.

“They want to take advantage of the day to liberate prisoners,’’ Mr. Kakubuzi said.

A police spokesman said the militiamen were trying to loot but had been pushed back by security forces.

A presidential election was postponed until April 2018 because of logistical and financial problems and some opposition leaders agreed that Mr. Kabila could remain in office until then.

The constitutional court has also ruled that Mr. Kabila, who had been the country’s president since his father was assassinated in 2001, can stay on.

However, Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition bloc rejected the deal as a ploy.

Recent talks mediated by the Catholic Church failed to reach a compromise.

The capital Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold of 12 million people, was quiet on Monday, with many residents staying at home and shops and businesses shuttered.

Military and police patrolled the streets with riot trucks.

The government has outlawed protests there, raising fears of repression and violence in a nation that has been plagued by war and instability for two decades since the fall of kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko.

Congo has not seen a peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960.

The opposition said on Saturday that it would not call for protests, but that may not stop them happening.

“Kabila will be an illegal president,” said Diego Kas, 29, who is unemployed like much of Congo’s adult population, as he stripped a discarded fridge they were prepared to take to the streets to chase out Mr. Kabila.

“I don’t know how Kabila is going to stay on because we don’t like him anymore. We are not his tenants. Congo is our country,’’ Mr. Kas said.

More than fifty people were killed in anti-Kabila protests in September; mostly protesters shot by police, although some mobs also attacked police stations and lynched officers.

However many people died during demonstrations in January 2015.

Presidency Addresses First Lady’s Whereabout

The Presidency has finally confirmed that the First Lady, Patience Jonathan is currently not in the country.

According to a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja by the media assistant to Mrs. Jonathan, the First Lady has traveled to Congo.

Adewuyi added that Mrs. Jonathan has gone to the country to join her colleagues from Africa for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of a Non-Governmental Organisation, Congo Assistance Foundation, established by the Congolese First Lady, Madam Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso. He was however silent on when she is expected back in the country.

According to the statement, Mrs. Jonathan was received in Congo on arrival by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Congo Brazzaville, Princess ?Onipede, in the company of top Congolese officials.

It will be recalled that Mrs. Jonathan has been absent from all public events inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, since President Jonathan lost his re-election bid in the March 28 presidential election.

This has fueled speculations over her whereabouts with the presidency keeping sealed lips.

The statement reads: “First Lady, Dame Patience Faka Jonathan, is in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, joining other African First Ladies for the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Congo Assistance Foundation, an NGO of Congolese First Lady, Madam Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso.

Read More: dailypost

Senegalese President Offers To Reduce His Presidential Term As An ‘Example To African Leaders’

Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Tuesday proposed a referendum on reducing his mandate by two years, a stance in contrast to several fellow African leaders criticised for clinging to power.

The pledge came with countries including Benin, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo-Brazzaville all said to be considering constitutional change to allow their leaders a third term in office.

“I was elected for seven years (but) next year, I will propose the organisation of a referendum for the reduction of my mandate,” he told a news conference with foreign media in Dakar.

The move would allow “a revision of the constitution, first on the mandate and then on some other aspects to strengthen our democracy”, he said, adding that he wanted the vote to take place in May next year.

“Have you ever seen presidents reduce their mandate? Well I’m going to do it,” Sall told the meeting at the presidency, making good on a pledge which formed part of his election campaign in 2012.

“We have to understand, in Africa too, that we are able to offer an example, and that power is not an end in itself,” he added.

Sall said he wanted presidential elections in 2017 rather than two years later, as envisaged under current constitutional arrangements, but would not be drawn on whether he intended to stand for a second term.

His announcement followed a plea by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to African leaders gathered for an annual summit in January to not cling to power and to respect the wishes of their people.

Chaos erupted in Burkina Faso in October last year as lawmakers prepared to vote to allow 63-year-old Blaise Compaore – who took power in a 1987 coup – to contest elections in November 2015. He was forced out of power.


African nations where laws have been changed to the benefit of their incumbent leaders include Algeria, Angola, Chad, Djibouti and Uganda.

As many as 42 people were killed in protests that erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January against a bill seen as an attempt to extend President Joseph Kabila’s hold on power in the nation he has led for 14 years.

Sall told foreign correspondents at the Dakar news conference he intended to appeal personally to Kabila for the release of Senegalese activists arrested on Sunday.

Three members of Senegalese pro-democracy campaign group “Y’en a marre” (“Fed Up”) were detained in Kinshasa with activists from DR Congo and Burkina Faso.

An American diplomat and journalists held alongside the campaigners have been released but the African activists remain in custody on suspicion of planning to destabilise the country.

Sall said he had instructed Foreign Minister Ndiaye Mankeur to make contact with Congolese authorities, adding: “We did what we had to do as a state, and that is to defend our citizens.”

“Myself, I intend to speak this morning, if the link is established, with President Kabila,” he told the news conference.

“It is not for me to judge if this is above board or not. My position as president of the republic of Senegal is not to get into this,” he added.

“My position is to ensure first of all, that the Senegalese members of “Y’en a marre” be released and returned home.”

Campaigners from the three nations gathered in Kinshasa Saturday for a meeting they said was intended to raise consciousness and mobilise young people about good government and democracy.

Security forces arrested about 30 people Sunday at the activists’ news conference, including three French reporters working respectively for AFP, BBC and Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

The activists still being held included Fadel Barro, the charismatic head of “Y’en a marre” as wells as fellow activist Aliou Sane and Senegalese rapper Fou Malade.

The group battled against ex-Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, whose bid for a controversial third term sparked deadly violence in Dakar in 2012.

Source – The Guardian.com

All Eyes On Malabo For AFCON 2015 Draws Today

All eyes in Africa will be focussed on Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday as the capital of Malabo plays host to the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations just weeks after Morocco were stripped of the right to host the event.

The traditional ceremony to determine the group matchups for the January 17 to February 8 continental showpiece, was initially set for Rabat before Morocco asked for the tournament to be postponed because of the devastating Ebola outbreak which has cost nearly 7,000 lives in west Africa.

Morocco were instead not only stripped of the right to host the tournament but disqualified from the event as Equatorial Guinea, the third highest producer of petrol in Sub-Saharan Africa, stepped in at the final hour to save the day.

Equatorial Guinea, who co-hosted the 2012 event with Gabon, face a race against time to be ready with less than two months until kick-off, and the draw is set to unveil further indications of progress on preparations.

One aspect that hasn’t changed is the format with four groups of four teams drawn in a round-robin first round line-up shared between the cities of Malabo, Bata, Mongomo and Ebebiyin.

– Ivory Coast, Algeria the teams to avoid –

Ironically, Equatorial Guinea will be in the top seeded hat as hosts, just six months after the former Spanish colony were disqualified from qualifying after fielding an ineligible player during a preliminary round fixture against Mauritania.

They will joined, as one of the top four seeds, by four-time champions Ghana, 2012 African winners Zambia and the Ivory Coast.

The ‘Elephants’ of the Ivory Coast, who lost finals in 2006 and 2012 and also reached the semi-finals in 2008, remain a formidable force as the seedings were determined by previous CAN results.

Their glory teams of the past have undergone several changes in recent years as they turn to life without retired legend Didier Drogba and now lean on the coaching leadership of dashing Frenchman Herve Renard who led Zambia to their first title three years ago.

Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Roma striker Gervinho are key players for the Ivory Coast with a strong cast of talent in place to support the 1992 champions.

Holders Nigeria and seven-time champions Egypt failed to qualify leaving Algeria the danger team from hat number two alongside 2013 finalists Burkina Faso, Mali and Tunisia.

The ‘Desert Foxes’ of Algeria reached the second round of the World Cup for the first time this year, and are chasing a second African title after their only success on home soil in 1990.

The country are enjoying a purple patch with top club ES Setif recently winning the African Champions League and the CAN providing a serious opportunity to increase their flourishing international reputation.

On paper, hat number four appears stronger than the third set of teams with former giants Senegal, Cameroon and Guinea joining the Congo while Cape Verde, South Africa, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo complete the 16-nation line-up in pot three.

Cameroon, now without former captain Samuel Eto’o, failed to qualify in 2012 and 2013 which dropped their ranking while Senegal have failed to get past the first round since 2006.

The ‘Indomitable Lions’ of Cameroon, won the last of their four African titles in 2002, when they defeated a Senegal team making their lone appearance in the championship match.

2015 CAN draw:

Pot 1: Equatorial Guinea (hosts), Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia

Pot 2: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Tunisia

Pot 3: Cape Verde, South Africa, Gabon, DR Congo

Pot 4: Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, Congo

Source – kokomansion.com

Congo Crowd Kills Man, Eats him After Militant Massacres

A crowd stoned to death a young man in northeast Congo on Friday before burning and eating his corpse, witnesses said, in apparent revenge for a series of attacks by Ugandan rebels.

The incident in the town of Beni followed a number of overnight raids in the area blamed on the Islamist group ADF-NAUL, who are thought to have massacred more than 100 people this month, using hatchets and machetes to kill their victims.

Witnesses said the man, who has not been identified, aroused suspicion on a bus when passengers discovered he could not speak the local Swahili language and that he was carrying a machete.

Tensions ran high in the town on Friday morning with around 100 demonstrators blocking the road from the airport into town, throwing stones and waving machetes to demand greater government protection against the rebels.

Read More: http://news.yahoo.com


New Ebola Strain Penetrates Congo Democratic Republic

DRC ebola

Health Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Numbi confirms that the Ebola outbreak in the Equateur province has a seemingly different strain of Ebola to that of West Africa. Revealing that the disease in the Equateur province has killed 13 already including health workers, was found in an isolated area.


This is reportedly the first case of Ebola outside West Africa,  and Dr. Numbi said that a quarantine area has is being set up to manage the outbreak.

Congo has been hit by Ebola outbreaks seven times before, but the two deaths are the first ones in recent times.

Ebola news

A total of 1,427 people have died from the virus so far, while an estimation of 2,615 people have been infected with Ebola since March in West Africa.