WALTER JAMES

Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.



Time To Vote

22 Jan

A presidential election is supposed to occur in 2011, and current president Joseph Kabila faces some strong competition from Congolese politicians Vital Kamerhe and Etienne Tshisekedi. However, this last week Joseph Kabila “convinced” the National Assembly to change the Constitution in a way that basically guarantees his re-election this year.

Previously, the Congolese Presidential Election was a two-part election where the two top candidates from the first voting stage faced each other in a run-off (majority decision). Now, the Constitution is changed to a one-part election where victory is based on a plurality. Thus, Kabila can basically flood the candidate field with his people and guarantee a plurality for himself. Usually, the DRC National Assembly takes months and months to deliberate the stupidest petty law. However, by paying $20,000 to each MP voting yea, Kabila was able to get the constitutional changes pushed through in the fastest legislative action in Congolese history. The changes passed by a vote of 334 yeas, 1 nay, and 2 abstentions. 163 of the MPs walked out in protest. No one knows how much he paid the much-smaller Congolese Senate to pass these changes, but rest assured it was much more.

It is perfectly clear that Kabila is carefully calculating the demise of what little democracy is left in the DRC in order to maintain control. He is also consolidating control among the provincial governors, to the point that any provincial governor who displeases him can be immediately dismissed. Thus, the government far away from Kinshasa in an area like South Kivu has even less power and will to enact development action and improve the daily lives of the citizens.

Strong opposition to Kabila’s political maneuverings from the Congolese people would surely result in a brutal backlash from the military, adding more violence to an already war-torn region. Thus, the Congo seems to be destined to another six years of destitute poverty and harmful compromise sustained by a self-serving government that refuses to aid its citizens. Roads will not be built, clean water will not be provided, and the military will continue to prey on the citizens they are sworn to protect.

Posted By WALTER JAMES

Posted Jan 22nd, 2011

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