Friday, April 13, 2007

Security and Hypocrisy in the Congo

Jean Pierre Bemba and his family left the Congo for Portugal this week. Bemba had been hold up in the South African Embassy in Kinshasa since the violent exchanges between his security guards and the DRC soldiers on March 22- 23. Bemba was allowed to leave for Portugal after two weeks of pressure was brought to bear on the Kabila government by the international community and a perfunctory approval by the Congolese Senate. If Kabila had his way, Bemba would have been hunted down, tried and executed on charges of treason as a warrant for his arrest was issued since the March violent exchange.

Kabila was roundly criticized for the premature and excessive use of force in his stated attempt to bring order to Kinshasa. Many European diplomats decried the rush to force by the Kabila government. One cannot help but be bemused by the righteous indignation of the diplomatic corps as they call for dialogue and reconciliation. These calls sound hallow and disingenuous when these same diplomats sideline the Democratic opposition in the lead up to the elections when they called for dialogue, reconciliation and consensus prior to the elections.

The violent outbreaks that have occurred since the July 2006 elections were more than predictable. With each violent convulsion, it becomes evident to the world what many Congolese scholars and activists have been saying, mainly that the $500 million that the international community spent on the elections was done to put in place violent rebel leaders to bring about order rather than democracy. The west has never supported democracy in the Congo. In fact, they have stifled and suppressed democratic forces in the Congo since its modern inception and what transpired in the 2006 elections was no different.

As for the future of democracy in the Congo, it is questionable at best. Even if there was a strong opposition, the prospects for peaceful democratic transition would be difficult at best but with Kabila consolidating power and decapitating what is left of any opposition, a dictatorship is more attainable. Any such dictatorship would however be short-lived and maybe not even attainable. The Congolese people would rather set the country ablaze than endure another dictatorship.

The challenge for friends of the Congo in the global community is to support the people of the Congo and the democratic and anti-imperialist forces in the country. The arc of history bends toward a liberated Congo.