Diplomatic Flurry to Bring the Belligerents Together
Thus far this week,Kinshasa, DRC has witnessed a diplomatic flurry, from the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki to the European Union foreign policy and security chief, Javier Solana,as well as Hilary Benn, the UK secretary of state for international development. All are in the Congo to try and assure a peaceful second rounds of elections.
Some progress has been made but the situation remains tenuous. Kabila gave permission for Jean Pierre Bemba's television stations to be back on the air. Bemba's camp indicated that this was a positive in the right direction that brings the two belligerents close to face-to-face talks. One of Bemba's condition for talks with Kabila was to have his television stations turned on by the Kabila government.
There is still grave concern regarding the outbreak of violence leading up to and during the run-off elections for president on October 29, 2006. All indications are that both the Kabila camp and the Bemba camp are well armed and ready to do battle. Nonetheless, Hilar Benn reported in a press conference that he got the two men to agree to meet in an effort to arrive at an accord that will pave the way to a stable and peacful second round of voting. A specific date had not been set for the meeting.
We must reiterate the vast gap that exists between the two belligerents and the Congolese people. The Congolese people clearly demonstrated their will for peace, stability and the ascendancy to power via the ballot. On the other hand, Kabila and Bemba appear to be holding the Congolese people hostage through violence as a result of their quest for power and riches by any means necessary. It is no wonder many Congolese said the choice between the two in the second round is like choosing between cholera and the plague.