While a presidential election was initially scheduled for November 27 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congolese government and election officials now state flatly that the election will not occur. President Joseph Kabila is constitutionally bound to step down after his second term, which is near completion. But if elections do not happen, it is clear that Kabila will attempt to serve until another round of elections are held. A remarkably unified opposition has called for adherence to the Congo’s constitution and holding to the prescribed election schedule and President Kabila’s departure from office at the end of his present term. This deep disagreement means that the DRC could be headed back into a spiral of violence and war, both of which it knows all too well. The DRC’s current political environment is also generating other questions about democracy promotion across Africa and the U.S. role in the region.
On August 15, the Africa Security Initiative, part of the Brookings Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, hosted an event focused on the DRC and the broader region. Thomas Perriello, President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Africa Great Lakes region, shared his thoughts and experiences there. His Excellency François Balumuene, ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United States, offered his insights. Anthony Gambino, a former USAID mission director for the Democratic Republic of Congo, joined Special Envoy Perriello and Ambassador Balumuene. Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings senior fellow, moderated the discussion.
Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States
Executive Director, Panzi Foundation USA
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For all of us who care about preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb, what’s the best way to keep preventing that? [The JCPOA is] not perfect, but it’s something. These conventions are never based on the premise that all the parties are telling the truth, it’s about enforcement mechanisms. No arms control agreement is based in trust.