Friday, January 28, 2011

Ambassdor Meece Presents at Woodrow Wilson Center

Ambassador Roger Meece, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo gave a presentation in Washington, DC at the Wilson Center on Thursday, January 27, 2011.

The topic of the talk was “Elections and Peace Consolidation: Prospects and Challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Ambassador Meece provided information that was not widely available. He blew a big hole in the central argument of the Congolese government about why they had to change the constitution so that presidential elections could be one round instead of two. The government argued that they were changing the constitution and electoral law from two rounds to one round in order to save the country money and that the elections would cost $700 million. Ambassador Meece said the 2011 elections would actually cost about $240 million.

Ambassador Meece made two other key points that FOTC took note of. He cautioned the audience that analysts, policy makers, activists, etc do not sufficiently take into account the domestic political context and the role of local political actors when analyzing the Congo and proposing prescriptions to bring about positive change. This is a contention that Congolese have made throughout the 16 years of conflict and instability in the Congo.

A second key point that Ambassador Meece delved into with aplomb was the vaunted silver bullet of Security Sector Reform (SSR). He called upon observers, policy analysts and activists to be more creative when it comes to the issue of SSR. He contends that talking about an overall SSR plan is not particularly useful or constructive but SSR must be unpacked and broken out into different areas or sectors for example, police, justice and military.

Ambassador Meece’s caution and reminders were timely. As one local NGO states outsiders make prescriptions as if there is a Congo without Congolese.


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