Dec. 27 (GIN) – The U.S. will spend close to a billion dollars for “peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and development initiatives,” in the Democratic Republic of Congo where President Joseph Kabila has just won an election dismissed as “seriously flawed.”
“It is clear that the elections were deficient in many ways,” Asst Secy of State for Africa Johnnie Carson acknowledged to a U.S. Senate panel. “(The polls) did not measure up to the democratic gains we have seen in recent African elections.” According to provisional results, Kabila won 49 per cent of the vote while chief opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi garnered 32 per cent.
Human Rights Watch notes that at least 24 people were killed by security forces and dozens detained since Kabila was declared the winner on Dec. 9.
Kambale Musavuli, director of the Friends of the Congo, an advocacy group, explained U.S. continuing support of the disputed victor. “It’s very clear the US supports the current regime,” Musavuli said, attributing this to President Kabila’s deal-making with American and European mining interests.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Tshisekedi braved the threat of arrest and tear gas to hold his own “swearing in” ceremony last week, just days after Pres. Kabila’s official induction ceremony.
“Today puts an indelible mark on the history of our country which has passed from dictatorship via the oligarchy of Kabila and his followers to real democracy,” declared Tshisekedi’s chief of staff in what may be the opening of a new battle for the presidency. Tragically, life expectancy in the DRC is only 46, and nearly 83 percent of all Congolese have either only primary schooling or no schooling at all.