by Elco B
Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 03:41:08 AM EST
Sunday, 30 July elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex Zaire) for the first time in 46 years.
|Political propaganda African style.....|
from the frontpage
First thing you always must have in mind is that DR Congo is a big, very big country. Distances are in the range of Paris-Moscow, Helsinki-Athens, London-Warsaw. Imagine the differences in culture, languages, economics... There are 55 to 60 million of inhabitants, based on UN estimates: with a state organisation and infrastructure fallen to pieces, it is not possible to determine exact figures.
After the war from 1998 to 2003, some name it World War III(see European Breakfast), a certain stabilisation began but the UN's largest operation (MONUC) is ongoing till today.
This story is only about some facts and figures to 'paint' what is going on in this country. It is impossible to describe in one article the facts and evolutions in an area which is almost as big as the entire EU.
Geography: Congo is the biggest country of Cental Africa (2,345,000 km²)
Capital: Kinshasa (with 7.8 million inhabitants the third-largest city of Africa, after Cairo and Lagos)
Languages:French (the offical language), Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba, Kikongo and many others.
Religion: Christians (80%), animists and Muslims.
History (warning: this is from western viewpoint only):
From 1885 to 1908, Congo is pesonal property (!) of King Leopold II of Belgium.
1908-1960 : Belgian colony.
First democratic elections in May 1960, independence on 30 June same year. First president Joseph Kasavubu, prime minister Lumumba.
July 1960: the Katanga province, the richest on minerals, copper, uranium, diamonds goes for separation actively supported by Belgium.
September 1960: First coup d'état by Mobutu.
January 1961: premier Lumumba assassinated (with cooperation of Belgium and the US)
In 1963 and '64: civil war: Katanga and several revolts: Che Guevara (yes, him) fought in Congo in that period. But Belgian and US intervention (military, with heavy bombardements and troops) and their support for the second coup d'état of Mobutu 'reunite' the country. The Katanga secession ended after a UN intervention.
End 1965: general Mobutu installs his dictatorship. With his party MPR he controls most of the country.
Some resistance is always active but never can threaten Mobutu who is protected by Belgium and US for the enormous economical profits.
- Mobutu allows multiple political parties. But this leads to a kind of multi-Mobutisme instead of democracy.
- revolt against Mobutu starts in the East of Congo. A coalition, the AFDL grows and Kabila becomes one of the most important leaders. Uganda and Rwanda activily support the movement.
17 May 1997: the insurgents arrive in Kinshasa and Kabila becomes the new president. Mobutu is now a fugitive.
August 1998: Rwandan and Ugandan troops enter the country to defeat Kabila but they meet resistance in the Eastern provinces ( the Mayi-Mayi)
1999: The Western countries impose a cease-fire, and an 'intercongolese dialog' must oblige Kabila to share power.
January 2001: Kabila is assassinated by one of his bodyguards. His son Joseph becomes the new president.
17 December 2002: a peace agreement is signed.
2 April 2003: A concept for the new constitution is agreed.
30 June 2003: a new governement, Kabila plus four former rebellion-leaders. They prepare the referendum on the new constitution.
20 June 2005: start of registration of candidates.
18 December 2005: The referendum approves the new constitution by 84%. Now at last elections can be held.
The elections: there are 33 candidates for president, 9,707 candidates for a seat in the 500-seats paliament.
More than 75% of the population has less than a dollar a day to survive and no access to potable water.
This is an 'introduction': more will follow in the coming days, and next week after the elections.
Additional info :
The Invisible Congo Tragedy.
D.R. CONGO: Minerals Flow Abroad, Misery Remains
Most of this story was stolen from free-lance journalist Raf Custers.