In the DRC, the major political maneuvers have begun for Félix Tshisekedi

At the beginning of February, major political maneuvers began in Kinshasa

In the DRC, the major political maneuvers have begun for Félix Tshisekedi

At the beginning of February, major political maneuvers began in Kinshasa. There is excitement in the aisles of the newly elected Parliament for the formation of a government responsible for launching the second mandate of Félix Tshisekedi, six weeks after his electoral tidal wave in the presidential election (73% of the votes), just like to the legislative elections organized concurrently on December 20, 2023. So many successes considered highly suspect by the opposition. This, as well as the observation mission of the Congolese Catholic and Protestant churches, denounced “the organized chaos” observed on voting day (presidential, national and provincial legislative) and during the counting.

Beyond the logistical disaster, these different parties also noted a much more problematic point concerning the vote count. “The results are based on the electronic voting devices [the machines on which the voters made their choices] rather than on the manual compilation [of the ballots slipped into the ballot boxes] as provided for by the legal framework”, we can read in the Interim Report of the Carter Center’s International Election Observation Mission, released January 26.

The opposition has decided not to file appeals before the Constitutional Court. The composition of this supreme body for validating the vote had been conveniently changed by the government ahead of the vote. The judges therefore validated almost all of the figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

"Fatshi concrete"

Reading them, it appears that Félix Tshisekedi emerges stronger than ever from this electoral sequence. In a much better position than at the start of his first mandate, in 2019. A political agreement with his predecessor Joseph Kabila had certainly guaranteed him a victory, already questionable, but it had also tied his hands for some two years.

This time, “Concrete Fatshi”, as his supporters nickname him, only counted on himself, his party, the UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress), his ministers, his allies and an administrative apparatus in battle order. He was thus elected with almost three-quarters of the votes in this one-round presidential election. Far, very far ahead of the man presented as his most serious challenger, Moïse Katumbi (18%), caricatured as a “candidate from abroad”.

The electoral mapping reveals a fairly clear victory for the former governor of ex-Katanga in a block of five contiguous provinces in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Where the country's mining safe is located, in this vast, mainly Swahili-speaking area bordering Tanzania, Zambia and Angola.

For the rest, Félix Tshisekedi crushes everyone in 20 of the 26 provinces of this continent (Martin Fayulu wins from Kwilu, in the west). He displays scores worthy of his Rwandan neighbor and worst enemy Paul Kagame: 99.5% on average in his native strongholds, the three Kasaï, and more than 90% in 12 of the 26 provinces. Which makes an electoral expert say that even if “his record and his campaign suggested a victory in the face of a divided opposition, the final score was undoubtedly very loaded”.

Solder the elements of the parliamentary mosaic

The bill is generally the same in the National Assembly where the opposition will have to be satisfied with the crumbs. According to the results announced on January 15 by the CENI, Félix Tshisekedi's UDPS alone occupies nearly 70 seats out of the 477 already allocated. There remain 23 positions to be provided later which correspond to the few canceled for fraud as well as to the constituencies of Masisi and Rutshuru in the east of the country, where elections could not be held due to violence committed by groups armed.

Above all, the UDPS can count on satellite parties created specially to rake in the maximum number of seats within the framework of the system proportional to the largest remainder, and on a myriad of groups allied to the presidential camp without being affiliated with it. In total, this team placed under the banner of the Sacred Union of the Nation brings together, arithmetically, more than two thirds of the deputies. That is, the majority necessary to undertake a reform of the 2006 Constitution, as Félix Tshisekedi is believed to have intended.

But before that, we will have to manage to weld together all the elements of this parliamentary mosaic. On Wednesday January 7, the presidency also tasked Augustin Kabuya, secretary general of the UDPS, with amalgamating this often heterogeneous electoral matter but which will serve as a basis for the constitution of the future government. Augustin Kabuya will not have too many of the thirty days he has to find the right regional and community mixes, pay campaign supporters, bargain for some loyalties...

It will then remain to tackle serious matters. Remember the campaign promise to improve the disastrous, even miserable, socio-economic situation of most Congolese. With 1,400 dollars of annual GDP per capita, the DRC, despite the exuberance of its natural wealth, lags behind in 50th place out of 54 African countries, according to 2022 figures from the World Bank. Equally alarming is the security record in the east of the country, a clear failure of the first five-year term.

On Wednesday in Kinshasa, the head of United Nations peace operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, judged “the situation in North Kivu to be very worrying”. According to him, “it raises the risk of an explosion at the regional level, in any case a very strong intensification, with an increased regional component.” The M23, accused by Kinshasa and the United Nations of being supported by Rwanda, has resumed its offensive, without the Congolese soldiers or those of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who are beginning to be deployed. manage to push her back.

The head of state will also have to pick up the pieces of a national unity chipped by an electoral campaign that is certainly effective but terribly divisive with its sometimes nauseating populist and nationalist overtones. How can we restore confidence in institutions whose legitimacy has been damaged by a far from exemplary election? Certainly, the DRC is not a special case on this African continent whose 2024 political calendar promises to be busy. Around ten legislative or presidential elections are planned from January to December, from Tunisia to South Africa, while the bad democratic news continues. And the DRC has not opened a new path.