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Africa 2015. A turning point in Eastern Congo

The political situation in many countries has disrupted the electoral schedule. Gbagbo’s trial in The Hague will also focus attention, while a moment of truth has come in Eastern Congo, where the deadline for the surrender of the FLDR rebels expires this month.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the 2015 local elections initially set for June and October are likely to be postponed. Lack of funding combined with delays in updating voters registries have led to a seven months delay in the organization of the elections. Government’s plans to organize a national census prior to these elections and to the forthcoming presidential and parliament elections in 2016 are also mentioned as a reason for possible delays. But since the opposition is suggesting those might be delaying tactics to keep Kabila whose mandate expires in 2016 as long as possible in office, analysts express fears that all these controversies may spark new unrest in the DRC.

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In the Central African Republic, the International Contact Group which includes UN, African and European Unions, US and French representatives has announced last November that it will not be possible to hold presidential and parliament elections by February 2015. The announcement came in the wake of a two weeks wave of violence in October, which left more than a dozen dead in the capital, Bangui. The UN are now making plans to organise the elections in August. But that still will be a challenge: despite a ceasefire signed in July, some 2,000 former fighters of the Muslim Seleka rebel group and 1,500 anti-balaka militias are threatening peace and security over large areas of the country, said an experts report to the UN Security Council.

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US diplomatic sources expressed on the 4 December doubts about the possibility to hold credible presidential and parliamentary elections in South Sudan on the 9 July, the anniversary of independence. Accordingly, time is short for vote preparations and a census should take place before elections, as stipulate the constitution. In addition, there is also too much insecurity in the country and there is no guarantee everyone can access to the ballot box, say opposition parties The problems is that there the gap between President Salva Kiir and the opposition leader Riek Machar who wants a power sharing deal, remains wide.
In Guinea-Conakry, the Presidential election scheduled for end 2015 has been postponed sine die. The 2015 budget does not include funds for the ballot. Besides, earlier this year, the government has already postponed the local elections because of the ebola epidemic which may favour contamination. In addition, owing to the epidemic, no foreign observers would attend the ballot operations.

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International Criminal Court

But the political year is not all about elections. During the first half of the year, the DRC will be expecting the verdict by the International Criminal Court of the trial against the leader of the Movement of Liberation of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who faces two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes perpetrated by MLC troops in the Central African Republic. Another important date will be the opening of the trial of the warlord Bosco Ntaganda who is accused of 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity
In Côte d’Ivoire, the opening of the trial in The Hague of the former President Laurent Gbagbo before the ICC in July 2015 might revive old wounds. Everyone expects also the outcome of the row between the Ivorian government and the ICC over who will judge Laurent Gbagbo’s spouse, Simone who is also accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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In DRC, the 2 January deadline set by the UN Security Council for the disarmament and surrender of the Forces démocratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda will expire and military action against the rebels by the UN troops and the Congolese army is expected. Meanwhile, in Somalia, the government hopes to finalise a new federal state structure in 2015 which would be central to return peace, stability and development to the country. Al Shebaab have lost strongholds in South Somalia but government security sources still consider the jihadist group as a threat in the country and beyond the borders.
(F. M.)

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