Monday, 18 June 2012

Kinshasa may not host the Francophonie summit.

By Gael Masengi

The French financial news website Ecofin reported (but still to be confirmed) that Kinshasa (DRC) has been disqualified as the host of the 14thFrancophonie summit scheduled for later this year. Ecofin wrote that, the event –which would see more than fifty head of states and governments of French speaking countries gathered– will instead be moved to Mauritius stating on-going political tension between the opposition –which is still claiming its apparently stolen victory– and the supposedly re-elected ruling party.

For the past few months, various pro-democracy groups across the DRC and in diaspora have loudly call for boycott of the summit in the country for the same reason, if it’s official the move will be seen as “victory” to Congolese activists from around the world who also have been lobbying vigorously to different ambassadors of country members and explaining why they should urge their respective government to call-off the trip to Kinshasa. Leading opposition political party, Union for Democracy and Social Progress had also expressed concern and threatened the bloc of French speaking countries governing body OIF should it go ahead and organise the summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, “we will mobilise the country’s civil society to block in every way possible the summit from happening” but the news website further underlined that political instability may not be the single reason behind last minute cancelation, it cites rumours of budget shortage.

Whatever the reason, the move will clearly be a big blow to embattling regime of Joseph Kabila fighting for legitimacy and credibility. After his inauguration ceremony which was attended by only one and infamous head of state, Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his absence at the continental annual important gathering in Johannesburg on Africa Day last month, analysts believe that Kinshasa’s diplomacy has hit its lowest point in decades since the days of Mobutu Sesseko. Joseph Kabila who came in power in 2001 shortly after his “father” Laurent Kabila was assassinated, is no stranger to human rights abuse allegations and crackdown on pro-democracy activists. One of the leading human right activists in the country was murdered two years ago, Mr Floribert Chebeya’s lifeless body was found in his car on June 2, 2010 while en route to a meeting with the Inspector General of the police and no one was punished. Same year, Armand Tungulu, a Belgium based Congolese freedom activist was also murdered while in detention in a Kinshasa jail for allegedly throwing stones at Kabila’s motorcade and the cause of his death remains unknown.

Last November’s coupled legislative and presidential elections results were found by the EU observer mission and the Carter Centre as having serious deficiencies and too flawed to be credible; the European bloc warned that it would revaluate its support.

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