Unless there are any last minute changes, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s head of state and President, Joseph Kabila, should have completed by the weekend, or at the latest by the beginning of next week, the planned consultations with ‘key forces’ of the nation and other dignitaries. ahead of the forthcoming electoral polls.
The goal is known to all, to clear the way for the holding of a national political dialogue to smooth the path towards the forthcoming elections. Three weeks after the talks began, all eyes will be on Joseph Kabila, eager to know the following: What is going to happen to the President ? This is the question on everybody’s lips, as it is on all Congolese and the international community too; everyone waiting with bated breath. “Kabila is alone with his conscience”, words that summarise the current suspense within the country, so many questions regarding the future of the Congo and Kinshasa to soon be answered.
Heads of religious denominations, tribal leaders, influential executives of the Presidential Majority, numerous political figures and structures forming the active forces of the nation, ambassadors, heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Kinshasa, parliamentarians and media officials on behalf of the press have all in turn made their way to the President’s Palace in the nation, in addition to the now famous presidential Kingakati farm.
It was in the earlier consultations initiated by the Congolese head of state to the holding of the national dialogue that everyone rose in favour, except that is of the radical opposition parties who stated that the planned dialogue should abide by the framework of the Addis Ababa Agreement. Joseph Kabila, in the light of various exchanges, listening to all viewpoints.
Only now has the President informed press that he would complete his consultations this weekend as, after listening to different delegations and the report of provincial governors on the initiated consultations, it is now up to Kabila to take the initiative. Will the President in time abide by the dialogue suggested by the overwhelming majority of his guests? If he choses this option, what would the content of this dialogue be exactly? What would the format, scope and resolutions be? So many questions are raised from this.
Addressing major issues related to the electoral cycle which began in 2015, culminating in the presidential elections in 2016, the head of state has never had as much time to make a decision. No one that witnessed the inter-Congolese dialogue held in Sun City in South Africa, the tumultuous elections in 2006 that resulted in clashes within the capital, or the equally tense elections in 2011, knows more that the initiative now likely to be decided holds the entire future of the DRC. The President is literally and figuratively at the moment of choice. National and international opinion is all now geared to hearing Kabila’s response, everyone wanting to know which direction the President will take after the long series of consultations, that originally began on 1st June, are finally over.
Having supposedly now taken sufficient measure of the situation, the President should now be in a position to respond to his guests, any opinions offered and at the same time communicate his thoughts to all. Joseph Kabila is alone before his conscience and also to his fellow party members of the Presidential Majority.
It is worth remembering that in 1990, after his tour through the DRC’s provinces as part of the ‘Popular Consultation’ operation, former President Marshal Mobutu Sese Seko was also in a similar position and alone before his conscience. It was from this that he initiated the process of democratisation in Zaire (now Congo), later surprising the political world with the dissolving of the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR) party. It is from here that the historical expression “understand my emotion” originates, referring in particular to the tears he had shed.
Joseph Kabila is now at a crossroads facing the political challenges that lie ahead. What course will he take to lead the Congolese to peaceful elections? Everything is now in his hands, Kabila being fully aware that his decision will determine the future of the DRC.
All, namely the majority, opposition forces, voices of the nation and international community as a whole expect the President to now know what to do. This equation with so many unknowns will now hopefully be solved this week following discussions being finalised. Aware of his responsibility before God and history, Joseph Kabila may not be sure to exercise the option that will pave the best way for credible and peaceful elections in the DRC.