Sekondi Accra

President Joseph Kabila, Africa's youngest head of state along with his political party, Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et le Democratie (PPRD) are strong favorites to win both the presidential and legislative elections planned for November 2011. While not much has improved since Kabila's election in 2006 and the instability in the east continues, the opposition lacks a leader of national status to challenge the current president. So far only three politicians have declared their candidacies: Vital Kamerhe, former President of the National Assembly; entrepreneur, Oscar Kashala; and longstanding oppositionist, Etienne Tshisekedi.

Kashala and Tshisekedi, who are both from Kasai Oriental Province, will most likely cancel each other out in an effort to win the Luba ethnic group vote. Kamerhe, with what little popularity he can garner in Kabilia's province in the eastern part of the country, does not have the electorial panache to pose a major challenge to the president. In September 2010, he signed a tentative alliance with the principal opposition party, the Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC). MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who lost to Kabila in the second round of the 2006, is ineligible to run in the 2011 elections because he is awaiting the start of his trial in the Hague for alleged war crimes.

By late 2010, the three principal parties - Kabila's (PPRD), Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito's Parti Lumumbiste Unife and Bemba's (MLC) - had not announced their candidates. Kabila's candidacy is academic. He is frequently crossing the country in full campaign mode. He hopes to capitalize on his cinq chantiers (five work sites) of national construction which include: education, electricity, employment, health, housing, infrastructure and water. However, the projects have been hampered by considerable delays. But even after a difficult 2009, which saw a decrease in GDP growth from 6.2% to 2.8%, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts 5.4% and 7% growth in 2010 and 2011. These prognostications should resonate with Congolese and foreign businessmen. Along with the power of incumbency, Kabila has the power of the state treasury to either intimidate political foes or reward public entities for their support. For instance in late August 2010, he issued a check for $10 million dollars for the revival of the state managed diamond company.

These elections are necessary to assure stability of the country and one of President Kabila's primary concerns is how to maintain support from the 100 independent out of the 500 seated assembly deputies. They are presently distancing themselves in order to translate their calls of presidential support into cash at election time. Their numbers represent more than the MLC (64) and almost as many as the PPRD (111). He also has to deal with the population's many frustrations as regards continuous human-rights violations, the lack of dividends from national reconstruction and economic crippling brought on by the mismanagement of natural resources. There is also the risk of instability during the elections. Supporters of Jean-Pierre Bemba along with several civil society groups claim that the Commission Electorale Independante's (CEI) calendar to be "illegitimate" because it would artificially extend President Kabila's current term. The government and the United Nations (UN) signed an agreement for a 715 million dollar budget for the elections, $367 million of which will be provided from the Congolese government.

Finally, eager to attract foreign agricultural investment, Congolese authorities have awarded vast swathes of land to foreign investors, often trampling the rights of poor farmers and indigenous groups who have long inhabited the areas involved. In 2009, the government promised an astonishing 7 million acres to a Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, for a palm oil plantation (though only a fraction of that total is likely to be developed); two years later, it gave some 1.2 million acres to a Malaysian firm, Atama Plantation for the same purpose. Congo's minister of agriculture, meanwhile, has ceded over 200,000 acres of prime farmland to a South African company that plans to use them for growing corn, rice, and soybeans. Local farmers have protested these transactions, but to no avail.


Official Data


[Back to Top]
The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa (tel. 243-81-2255872; fax 243-81-3010561). Mailing address is American Embassy Kinshasa, Unit 2220, DPO AE 09828.
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict