Friday, February 17, 2012

Elections in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

28 Nov 2011 was the date for the people to decide the leader of that country. Since that date there have been many reports concerning the lack of legitimacy of those elections.  Millions of votes were found illegal as well as procedural violations cited. As I am writing this article many protesters are now in the streets complaining about the election. At this very moment, the government has shut down radio stations and detained those that protest.
None of this is a shock because we had understood the reality of life in that country. However the situation needs to be resolved. As sad as it is, the current government must be allowed to govern, even though there is no doubt that the current leader has abused power.  That leaves us with the question of what to do?
Now as I have said many times, life is insane and this is one of those situations where a persons’ morals are in direct conflict with reality. We can be certain that any challenge to power will be met with violent force. The use of violence is not the choice of a peaceful person but when you are left with no options you must defend yourself. With that in mind it must be understood that no government rules without the will of the people.
The method or tactic being used by the current leader to hold power/control, is a combination of fear, corruption, loyalty and entitlement. In order to defeat the current leader there has to be a sustained focus on the use of those tactics and strong alternatives to every policy being offered. These alternatives have to be communicated. This is the task for the people of the country and they are doing many of these. The opposition is also using the other four tactics as well and that is where the international community can help.
We all have opinions but when it comes to international politics there has been a code of not talking publicly about who should lead what country. That is one reason why Russia and China do not speak about changing the leadership in Syria. Anyway, the NGO community does not have such restraints so many governments use that avenue to voice such concerns. For me I have no idea if the current leader would is any better or worse than the opposition leader and that needs to be a focus.
The focus for achieving peace in the DRC needs to be concerned with the independence of the Electoral Commission and strong education concerning peaceful societies. The institutions of the country and the average citizen need to be given great support so they feel safe in voting how they want. Right now is the time to begin that support in preparation for the next election.
All too often we only focus months before the date of elections. This not so alarming in a peaceful society but in a post-conflict society this lack of attention is harmful. As we witnessed in the past election, the Electoral Commission was poorly organized during the election. Also the opposition leader openly supported the use of violence no matter what the outcome.
The international community needs to step up the efforts to educate the people and those working in government. The education has to be focused on the responsibility of the people and the institutions to support the rule of a free and fair society. The chaos of conflict will grip any country as long as the ideology of disconnection exists. We have to get the people to practice the knowledge which holds a country in peace. That time is now because it can not be done in a months time, it will take years. As it stands now we have years before the next election in the DRC. Get to work now.

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