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Leonard Mulunda
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Great Lakes Region, Greats Conflicts in the Region

06 June 2014, 12:32

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) was established by the eleven Member States of the Great Lakes Region in 2004 as a forum for resolving armed conflict, maintaining peace, security, stability, and laying the foundation for post-conflict reconstruction in the Region. Currently, political instability and conflicts in the Great Lakes Region have a considerable regional dimension and thus require a concerted effort in order to promote sustainable peace and development. The organisation consists of twelve members now after the division of Sudan: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ruanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The region is derived firstly, from a consequence of a complex and interconnected set of interacting and accumulated problems.  Secondly from bad governance, lack of democracy, monopolisation of political power by an individual or ethnic group, widespread corruption, nepotism, violation of basic human right and ever Deeping poverty. This situation is found constituted a treat not only to African peace, but to international peace as well. When analysing carefully the situation in the Great Lakes Region, we can see that most leaders are getting to power by force, by coup or by a controversy election as the 28 November 2011 election of Democratic Republic of Congo which was criticised by all international and local observers. But the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region endorsed Joseph Kabila’s victory without taking into consideration all international frameworks related to the organisation of peaceful, free and fair election.. Many people believed that the restoration of democracy and justice in the Great Lakes Region will be convoyed only by a peaceful transfer of political power whenever elections are taking place, others believed that the time of peaceful, free and fair elections in great lakes region remain a concerns as election means, full respect of the fundamental law which is the constitution as well as respect of the mandate president of republic. But the political power in the Great Lakes region can change the constitution at any time to justify the injustice. Currently the Democratic Republic of Congo is proceeding to amend the constitution to allow Joseph Kabila who’s in power since 2001 to be elected for the third time in 2016. Same situation in Burundi we see that the National Assembly will proceed to make some modification to the constitutionthat will allow president Pierre Kurunzinza who’s in power since 2005 to be elected for the third time in 2015.  Can African dream of seeing a transfer of political power in Great lakes region done with a bottle of Champaign? Difficult question to answer that question due to the fact that many leaders in the Great Lakes Region came to power trough military coup, fraudulent election or arm conflict and guerrilla remain a big challenge, as we see that for the past 56 years they was been twenty two military coup as an average of tree military coup in every seven years in the great lakes Region. The first military coup in the Region occurred in 1958   when Ibrahim Abboud overthrow Abdulla Khall in Sudan, in 1963 David Moussaka and Felix Mouzzakani overthrow Fulbert Youlou in Congo Brazzaville, in 1965 Mobutu Seseseko overthrow Joseph Kasa-Vubu in DRC(Zaïre), in 1966 Michel Micombero overthrow Ntare V in Burundi, in 1996 Jean Bedel Bokassa overthrow David Dacko in Central African Republic, in 1966 Milton Obote overthrow Edward Mutesa in Uganda, in 1973 Jovenal Habyarimana  overthrow Gregoire Kayibanda in Rwanda, in 1976 Jean Baptiste Bagaza overthrow Michel Micombero in Burundi, in 1977 Joachim Yhambi – Opango overthrow Marien Ngouabi in Congo -  Brazzaville, in 1979 David Dacko overthrow Bokassa 1er in Central African Republic, in 1979 Yusuf Lule overthrow Idi Amin Dada in Uganda, in 1981 Andre kolingba overthrow David Dacko in Central African Republic, in 1985 Basilio Olara okello overtrow Milton Obote in Uganda, in 1986 Yoweri Kaguta Museveni overthrow Basilio Olara Okello in Uganda, in 1985 Swar Al – Dahab overthrow Gaafar Nimeiry in Soudan, in 1986 Ahmed Al – Mirghani overthrow  Swar Al – Dahab in Soudan, in 1987 Pierre Buyoya overthrow Jean Baptiste Bagaza in Burundi, in 1989 Omar El – Béchir overthrow Ahmad Al – Migran in Soudan, in 1996 Pierre Buyoya overthrow Sylvestre Ntibantunganya in Burundi, in 1997 Laurent Désire Kabila overtrow Mobutu Seseseko in Zaire ( DRC), in 2003 Francois Bozizé overthrow Ange Felix Patassé in Central African Republic, 2013 Michelle Djokotia overthrow Francois Bozizé in Central African republic.  The great lakes region is in danger if democracy, freedom, peace and justice are not subsequently restored hence. Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo must implement the principle of democracy in order to restore peace and democracy in the Region with the implication of the African Union. The African Union Constitutive Act was the first document of the new African Union era to declare that the African Union shall promote democratic principles institutions. The preamble to the constitutive Act specifies the determination of members state to promote and protect Human and peoples’ rights, consolidate democratic institutions and culture, and to ensure good governance and rule of law. Article 3 and 4 of the constitutive Act codify the promotion of democratic principles and institution, popular participation and good governance. Article 30 stipulates that Government which shall come to power trough unconstitutional means shall not be allowed to participate in the activities of the African Union. The African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted in Nairobi in June 1981 recognizes the right of every citizen to participate freely in the government of his or her country either directly or through democratically elected representatives. The Analysis of the constitutive Act, let people understand that every president who will change the constitution of his country in order to remain in power, should be consider as unconstitutional president and therefore African Union members states have right not to collaborate with that president who violate the constitution. The Durban declaration on the principles governing democratic election in Africa endorsed at the 38th ordinary session of the organisation of African Union Assembly, is the foundation on which the African Union has sought to drive the development of democratic election process across the continent. It listed the responsibilities of African Union member’s states to safeguard the Human and Civil liberties of all citizens, including the freedom of movement assembly, association, expression and to campaign, as well as access to the media by all stakeholders, particularly during the electoral process. Great lakes Region, Great problems in the Region, we will start to see where the history takes us. Between 2015 and 2016, four presidents in the Region have no constitutional right to be elected: Joseph Kabila of DRC cannot be present for election in 2016, Pierre Kurunzinza cannot be presented for election in 2015 in Burundi for the third time, Jakaya Kikwete who already declare that he is not going to violate the constitution, cannot be presented for election in Tanzania for the third time, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni cannot be presented for election in Uganda for the fourth time. South Africa who is presiding currently the African Union Commission should enforce the principles of democracy to discourage leaders that intend to change constitutions, and want to remain in power trough fraudulent elections. If all leaders in the Great lakes region aim to bring peace, they have to obey the will of their people by complying with   the principles of democracy means apprehend free, fair and democratic election, allow freedom of speech. If you want peace, prepare for peace. It is time that the African Union must have a parliament which must prepare policies to enforce peace and make sure that leaders do not change frequently constitutions to remain illegally in power.

Leonard Mulunda, Independent researcher in conflict affecting the Great Lake Region.

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