US lawmakers call on Foreign Office to closely follow DRC political developments

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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
  • US lawmakers have appealed to the Foreign Office to mobilise resources ahead of the DRC's 2023 elections.
  • The US provides over R 4.8 billion in aid to the DRC.
  • The UN security council report says the political situation in the DRC remains tense.

The United States Foreign Office has been encouraged by lawmakers to pay more attention to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s political situation ahead of the general elections in 2023.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks, and Ranking Member Michael McCaul said the US should " ... mobilise additional resources to support the deployment of international and domestic election observers, strengthen civil society, advance free and independent media, provide technical support to election preparations and build on nascent efforts to root out corruption".

The lawmakers said ensuring the DRC upheld democratic values would result in positives for America's foreign policy.

The letter reads:

These efforts could help strengthen the US–DRC relationship, which is critical to promoting our diplomatic, economic and security priorities in Africa and ensuring DRC citizens are empowered through the democratic process.

The US has pledged support for President Felix Tshisekedi's reform agenda and provides over R4.8 billion in aid to the DRC.

The US is also the single biggest donor to the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, which is a peacekeeping force.

According to the United Nations Security Council report, the political situation in the DRC remains tense.

The report singles out the 29 January removal of  Jean-Marc Kabund from his position as interim leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Justice, which is Tshisekedi's party. 

Kabund's political crime was his alleged close ties with former president Joseph Kabila.

A week earlier, Kabund had resigned as vice president of the national assembly after the Republican Guard reportedly raided his house.

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Another indicator of the simmering political temperature was the arrest in February of François Beya Kasonga, the president's special security advisor, allegedly for national security reasons.

While the Congolese authorities have not given details about Kasonga's arrest, there was talk of a foiled coup on social media. The president's spokesperson was quoted as saying that "the government has 'serious evidence' of a national security threat" and that "no attempt to destabilise democratic institutions will be tolerated".

"While this could be seen as an effort by President Tshisekedi to consolidate power ahead of the country's election in 2023, some analysts view it as an indication of a possible fracture within the ruling coalition, creating fears of political uncertainty," reads the report.

The DRC last held general elections in 2018, which the international community flagged as not free and fair, and was marred by alleged corrupt and undemocratic actions by Kabila, who had delayed the elections.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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