Written by Gael Masengi
Just months away from the 14th Francophonie summit, to be held in Kinshasa, there is a significant increase calls of boycott from pro-democracy Congolese activists to the IOF (International Organisation of the Francophonie) to not organise the next summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo citing political unrest and serious human rights violations by the current regime.
Created in 1970 under the Niamey Treaty in Niger, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) comprises 75 countries and governments. It is an international organisation of politics and governments with French as the mother and customary language, where a significant proportion of people are French speakers, or where there is notable affiliation with the French language and culture. Every two years, OIF holds ‘the heads of states and governments Summit’ to discuss on various issues affecting the country members, during the 13th summit held in Montreux, Switzerland; the Democratic Republic of Congo was designated as the host of this year’ events, but human rights activists along with the majority of Congolese people are increasingly expressing sentiments of frustration and anger toward the IOF which they accuse of ‘disregarding’ the on-going political crisis in the DRC.
Democracy, peace and human rights protection are the key objectives the Secretary General of the organisation, Abdou Diouf, highlighted during his address at the 19th annual of United Nations Human Rights Counsel in Geneva. He emphasized on these issues and reminded the country members that democracy and most of all human rights should be the principles of the organisation, a call which human rights activists say it’s has no effect to the Congolese government. The democratic Republic of Congo has become a country where officials violate universal laws whenever they want, the government kill, torture and arrest arbitrary members of opposition, organising a summit which promote peace in a country where such values are not respected will portray a bad image for the OIF.
A MONUSCO (United Nations mission in Congo) report released last week shows serious human rights violations, including the killings, arbitrary detention and disappearance committed during the electoral period. The UN joint Human Rights Office of DRC’ investigations published, coincidently on International Francophonie Day (March 20th) documents at least 33 people were killed in cold blood in Kinshasa alone, between 26 November and 25 December 2011, by bullets and many more are still missing. Most of the reported cases of violations involved Republican Guard (Joseph Kabila’s personal gangs) soldiers of forces were mentioned but at lesser extent, the report on the other hand have just put emphasis on something human rights defenders vigorously blame the Congolese government for.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo is not the rightful place to host any international event under the kabila regime.” said Jacky L. a political analyst “If the OIF go ahead and organise the Summit there, not only it will contradict the organisation’ so-called democratic status but it will also ruin its reputation.” She said
One of the growing boycott calls is from a Canada based Congolese activist, who started a hunger strike to raise awareness about the human rights issues in the DRC. Like others, Frederick Mwenengabo is asking the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to attend the Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa this November.
Analysts believe that rejection of elections results specifically in Africa have become ritual, therefore claims are not taken seriously by the international community and despite the current political situation in the DRC, it’s unlikely for the organisers to move the summit to another country. Because by rewarding Kinshasa the rights to organise the event, the OIF may already took in consideration all of these factors. However, last summit (2010) was moved from Madagascar to Switzerland for the very same reason, the OIF cited political instability after the disputed presidential election but unlike Antananarivo, the situation in Kinshasa may not look “too bad” and it’s not “too good” either, an eerie calm that should worry the international community.