The president of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, is one of the leaders in Africa who have shown intentions of clinging to power, through unconstitutional means. The ruling party and other supporting coalitions in the DRC, have delayed the national elections that were to be held in 2016. This clearly indicates Kabila’s quest for more power beyond his final term.
He has utilized different strategies of holding back the elections, with the hope that it will enable him stay in a transitional arrangement. These actions have shown that democracy is not being exercised according to the constitutional requirements, resulting to riots on the streets of Kinshasa. President Joseph Kabila has been secretly working to manipulate the constitution, anticipating to extend his two terms of presidency. His failure to enact the changes in the constitution has forced him to adopt a second alternative of delaying the elections, which denies citizens the right to implement democracy.
Reason behind Kabila’s actions
One of the major reasons that might be influencing Kabila’s quest for more power is the ambition of maintaining a family dynasty. Unlike monarchies, where authority is inherited regardless of one’s competence in running the country, democracies give citizens the right to choose an eligible leader. Looking back at the history of the DRC, Kabila dynasty was deployed in 1997 by a bloody coup d’état, where Mobutu Sese was overthrown by Laurent Kabila. After the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January 2001, Mwenze Kongolo, the Justice Minister, initiated the succession decision appointing Joseph Kabila as the president. Before the new constitution was drafted in 2006, Joseph Kabila had already served one term as a president of the DRC, giving him 15 years on the presidential seat. Generally, his rule has not been accepted by people as being democratic since 2001, having been appointed and not elected. Inheritance of power by individuals who are from the same family often leads to poor leadership, compromising a country’s stability. The constitution has given all citizens the right and obligation to choose a legitimate leader who is guided by the laws governing the country. Kabila’s aspirations of extending the presidential terms go against the drafted constitution, restraining citizens from exercising their rights.
The court’s influence on DRC’s presidential elections
The constitutional court in the DRC is primarily endowed with the mandate of administering the constitutional law, and delivering the needs of executive power. It gave a verdict on May 11th 2016, following the controversy on why Kabila should stay in presidential office, even if the elections were to be delayed until 2018. Surprisingly, the date that was set for the court hearing, was the expected date in which the presidential national elections were to be held. Benoit Lwamba Bindu, the Constitutional Court President, ruled that Joseph Kabila may stay in power for as long as it’s necessary. He cited his decision from Article 70, clause two, of the drafted constitution which permits the president of the republic to remain in office, until the installation of a newly elected president. This has given him the urge to champion his quest for power, basing his decisions from the constitutional law. It is mandatory to abide by the law and be guided by it, but on the other side, there are certain constitutional clauses which must be amended. Decision made by the Constitutional Court has contributed towards Kabila’s aspirations for more power, influencing DRC’s presidential elections. This has impacted negatively on the people in DRC, as they cannot change the decisions ruled out by the Constitutional Court. It has also widened the breeding grounds for Joseph Kabila’s dictatorial ambitions.
Efforts initiated by the opposition party in alleviating bad leadership
The opposition bloc has played a great role in ensuring that the ruling party provides the right leadership and decisions, as stated by the constitution. It has also raised the voices of citizens by pointing out the specific areas that need to be streamlined in order to run the country. Eve Bazaiba, Secretary-General of the opposition movement stated that, “If the court violates the constitution, we are not going to follow the court”. This was after Lwamba Bindu, the Constitutional Court President, gave a ruling which allowed for undefined extension of Kabila’s presidency. The leader of the opposition party, Moise Katumbi, stated that “President Joseph Kabila is steadily leading the country into absolute dictatorship”. His statement on his twitter account earned him a four year jail term despite being out of the country. The oppression of the opposition party has led to stringent measures, which would ensure Kabila is off the presidential seat. It has called for a general protest on Wednesday that will agitate for new elections, and a chance to vote for an eligible leader having the interests of people.
Why Joseph Kabila should hand over his presidency
Article 220 of the DRC constitution, specifies that a president cannot pursue a third term after his or her second presidential seat. This ensures that the power vested in political leaders eventually rotates, fulfilling the democratic ambitions of a country. Unless President Joseph Kabila agrees to hand over power, DRC is likely to be forced to use violence in an attempt to advocate for change. The drafted constitution also consists of different contradicting clauses, which leads to poor judgment made by the high officials in Court. The clauses contained in the constitution need to be amended, to enhance effective decision by judges in the Constitutional Courts. Kabila’s dictatorial ambitions and quest to remain in power may impact negatively on the country’s future. The protests in Kinshasa have left more than 40 people killed in cold blood. The seriousness of the situation can be determined by the on-going protests, in an event where Kabila fails to step down from his presidential seat. In order to restore a peaceful democracy, power should be handed over to leaders who are elected by the people, and take an oath to abide by the constitution governing the country.