After the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A baseline study

von Peter Küpfer

The world was amazed, some were infuriated, many heartened to see a spark of hope: Three African countries in the Sahel region, namely Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have not only succeeded in toppling their respective regimes, who had participated in Western style «unleashed world trade». They have also stood their ground against military threats and economic sanctions and maintained the revocation of the consensus. When these three countries, who have since joined forces in the Association of Sahel States (Association des Etats du Sahel, AES), left the West African Economic Association (ECOWAS) recently, this move made headlines worldwide. Basically, they chose to leave structures behind (modelled after the European Union) that did not offer them any prospects of development but embody the concept of modern neo-colonialism.1

The recent elections in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRK) –
US stronghold in Central Africa

Shortly before Christmas (20 December 2023) general elections were held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the president, the national assembly (parliament) and regional and municipal bodies. Main concern for both the electorate and Western media was the question whether Felix Tshisekedi would secure a second term. His achievements so far are generally seen as meagre. The political opposition, but also the highly respected and courageous episcopal conference (CENCO), drew attention to grave shortcomings in the election process yet again. The bishops referred to  the official 73 %, supposedly the count of Tshisekedi‘s re-election, as “catastrophically” rigged. In this context they mentioned not only the low voter turnout of just 40 % (the majority of the electorate chose not to vote) but also grave glitches manipulation of results.2 Nevertheless, the supreme election council has checked and confirmed the results in the meantime.

Elections riddled
by forgeries – yet again

Felix Tshisekedi is the son of Etienne Tshisekedi, the founder of the UDPS (Party for democracy and social progress). As early as during Mobutu’s later years (from 1979 onwards), Etienne Tshisekedi had been an influential figure of the opposition. Now his son Felix Tshisekedi has secured his second term competing against numerous other candidates and with the official vote result of 73 % which many found astonishingly high. A prominent opponent among the other candidates was Martin Fayulu, in whom many in the opposition have placed hope since the elections five years ago. The episcopal conference had voiced their grave concern in 2018 already, when Felix Tshisekedi was elected for the first time. According to their own vote counting results (they had their own, reliable election observers who monitored the counting process throughout the country) “… a different candidate had won the elections, rather than Tshisekedi”, as they put it. It was not too hard for the electorate at the time, to guess that this “different candidate” was in fact Martin Fayulu. However, in this election only few people supposedly voted for Fayulu. Noteworthy: Five years ago, it had been Felix Tshisekedi (president of the UDPS at the time, like his father had been) who in the run-up to the election of 2018 had broken his word and announced his own candidacy on the very next day after he had agreed with the most important opposition groups to endorse Fayulu.
  Similarly implausible were the rather low results of competing candidates Moïse Katumbi and Denis Mukwege, who is a Nobel prize laureate and ran as a fringe candidate. As a medical doctor and founder of his famous hospital Panzi in the war-torn East Congo (Bukayu) he has cared especially for the many women who as rape victims suffer from physical and mental trauma inflicted on them by the various armed gangs. Like the children, they are most vulnerable in a situation where in East Congo armed gangs attack peaceful villages systematically and on a regular basis. For years they have committed sadistic atrocities there against civilians. In our media not a lot can be read about this humanitarian catastrophe, UN reports of incredibly sadistic atrocities have been filed in the archives for 30 years now but are to no avail.
  Most of these criminal gangs are involved with the illegal mining of very expensive natural resources such as lithium (for car batteries) or Coltan (for mobile phones). The Congolese «security forces» are busy looking the other way. Official UN reports have supported accusations against officers of both the Congolese army and the UN monitoring mission (MONUC) being involved in such illegal transactions, including mass rapes. Serious experts agree that the continuous terror against the civilian population makes “sense” only if one is to assume: the aim is to depopulate the East Congo. At present there are thousands of refugees on the roads again, towards a totally uncertain future, a scenario just like it was in the late 1990ies when the Congolese wars began.

Eternal war in East
Congo – “We are so sick of it!”

Considering all that one wonders how Tshisekedi is supposed to deliver on the main promise of his election campaign. He had asserted five years ago already, swearing by all that’s holy: That he would work with all that’s in his power and even put “his own life» at stake so that peace would finally be secured in the East Congo. Nevertheless, this murderous war has continued for another five years and even gained more destructive momentum.
  This dire scenario is inextricably intertwined with Joseph Kabila as its key figure. Officially, he is the natural son of Laurent Désiré Kabila, who had been installed by the US to succeed Mobutu: in 1996 US specialists got him with his AFDL safely through the jungle right to Kinshasa, leaving the Congolese army baffled and unable to intervene. The fanciful abbreviation stands for “Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo” (AFDL). It was an efficient intervention army, equipped with Western high-tech arms and staffed by Ruanda, who back then seized power in Kinshasa in a blitzkrieg when Mobutu fell ill. Even then it was an open secret that the label of civil war style «rebellion» (supposedly carried out by a suppressed East Congolese ethnicity called “Banyamulenge”) which was attached to the AFDL by Western media outlets was a propaganda lie invented out of thin air.
  Meanwhile 30 years of war in Est Congo have passed but our media still stick to their wording of “rebel groups”. In reality, we are still dealing with professional, high-tech armed mercenaries. As it was the case back then 30 years ago, strings are pulled by two dictators based in immediately adjacent countries, Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Ruanda). Both have gone through US military training and serve as key players for the US strategy to secure their position in central Africa. The decade old war lie of “rebels” is meant to obscure the terrible truth: the systematic killing sprees in defenceless villages, at the moment mainly in Goma again, aim for the depopulation of the region. And this in turn paves the way for Ruanda’s thinly veiled goal to annex several Congolese provinces. The Congolese people on the other hand are sick and tired of the war driven by foreigners. What insults them most is the complete absence of the 30 year cleansing campaign in Western «liberal» media – as Charles Onana put it, a silence enforced by mafia style terror – l’Omertá.

The 30-year-old construction of lies
is meant to justify the “ethnic cleansing”

As in similar situations in other parts of the world, the systematically played “ethnic card” is trump in this dirty war, too. The perpetrators refer to themselves as victims in this region, incessantly and in a systematic and relentless way, backed-up by a distorted Western media spin which is permanently hammered into people’s minds. They don’t even shy away from spinning the tragic events of the genocide in Ruanda 1994 into the total opposite in order to legitimize Rwandan claims to East Congo territories.
  Charles Onana provides a good review on the real background of this permanent catastrophe in his book “Holocauste au Congo. L’omertà de la communauté internationale” (The Holocaust in Congo.  Omertà of the international community), which is unfortunately only available in French so far.3
  The official Rwandan viewpoint asserts that only the intervention of Kagame’s FPR (Front patriotique rwandais) guerrilla troops had stopped the genocide committed by Hutu extremists against the traditional Tutsi elite in the summer of 1994. Since many “mass murderers” or “génocidaires” had fled to the East Congo, the argument goes, they had infiltrated the refugee camps and were planning terrorist attacks against the Tutsi minority in Kigali, who had seized power in Ruanda in the meantime. These refugee camps where therefore posing a «constant threat» against the New Ruanda and faced with the passivity of the UN there had been no alternative to the invasion of East Congo, to root the problem out once and for all. In reality, AFDL troops attacked these camps, where tens of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees were barely surviving under precarious conditions, systematically with heavy artillery after the invasion started in November 1996, killing many and forcing the rest to flee again. The majority of those refugees were chased by militia men and either killed or were starved to death, hundreds of thousands perished according to official figures. But almost everything about this official narrative is untrue, as Onana’s book clarifies with robust data analysis. It is a war lie which has covered up 30 years of injustice and a policy of “ethnic cleansing” committed by the mercenaries whom Ruanda (and Uganda) had sent to the area.

Tshisekedi under
pressure from two sides

So far, Tshisekedi has no substantial achievements he could refer to. On the contrary, the intensity of the fighting increased during his first term. Goma has been under siege for two years. Participation in the elections was impossible there and in the surrounding regions. Nobody doubts that the M23, the strongest of about 100 mercenary groups who besiege Goma, are in their major parts controlled by Ruanda. Guerrilla warfare may erupt into open war again any time, just like 30 years ago. But the invisible enemy may be even more dangerous. They operate in silence and under cover, using clandestine organisations and corruption as their main tools. A key player is Joseph Kabila: the man who after the assassination of «his father» (whom he hardly knew) led the transition government for a long time, clinging to power with exception rulings even afterwards, beyond his term. He always acted as a true partisan of those circles who are in unchallenged power in Kigali right now and respond to every criticism of their dictatorial rule with the counter accusation that the critic was a “genocidaire”. Congolese informed circles doubt that Tshisekedi has the guts to really take on this multi-headed dragon. Laurent Désiré Kabila did actually prove his courage when, after his installation by Ruanda as the new president after Mobutu he dared to oppose the wishes of some big Western natural resources consortia concerning guarantees for their continuous exploitation of the country for dumping prices, this turned out to be suicidal. Many experts on Congo at the time agreed this incident to be the main reason why he was assassinated (on 16 January 2001) by one of his own body guards – yet another political murder which is unresolved to this day. Kabila the younger drew his conclusions. After his ousting he made sure he was elected “lifelong senator” which implies impunity in the Congolese juridical system. Moreover, his sister and his half-brother own a majority of shares of the bank which controls the international cash flow connected to Congolese mining businesses. Considering this, it would be naive to assume, that Kabila has not struck a confidential deal with Tshikesedi prior to his leaving office. All possible explanations why Tshisekedi made his last-minute decision to run against Fayulu in 2018.

What should be done?

Perhaps the captain of this half-wrecked super tanker should hire a more suitable crew, stop taking ill advise from the admirals of a self-appointed world government but rely on brave, weather-beaten sailors instead, who keep the common good in focus, and quite possibly change course as well. Other vessels, such as the Sahel states mentioned above, but also South Africa with their international law suit against ethnic cleansing in Gaza are heading in a completely different direction already.  •

1 Chossudovsky, Michel. Global-brutal. Der entfesselte Welthandel, die Armut, der Krieg, 1997
2 Vatican News of 19 January 2024 
3 Onana, Charles. Holcauste au Congo. L'Omertà de la communauté internationale. Paris (Edition de l'Artilleur) 2023: ISBN 978-2-81001-145-2

See also the article “Der ‹post-mobutistische› Kongo: Die USA setzen auf die ruandische Karte”, Current Concerns of 30 December 2018

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