Presidential election in the DRC: for Floribert Anzuluni, “the risks of post-electoral conflict are greater than during the last election”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), almost two weeks before the vote scheduled for December 20, candidates are one after the other to campaign in the east of the country, the scene of chronic instability and a still ongoing conflict with rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23)

Presidential election in the DRC: for Floribert Anzuluni, “the risks of post-electoral conflict are greater than during the last election”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), almost two weeks before the vote scheduled for December 20, candidates are one after the other to campaign in the east of the country, the scene of chronic instability and a still ongoing conflict with rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23).

Floribert Anzuluni, president of the Citizen Alternative party and former coordinator of the citizen movement Filimbi (“whistle” in Swahili) has been nominated by civil society for the presidential election. From Goma, he denounces a system of predation maintained by the Congolese political class and is worried about possible clashes following the election.

The decision to enter politics is not an individual initiative. With other engaged citizens, we observed that the predatory system of governance was embodied by almost the entire political class. These actors position themselves exclusively according to their own interest and move from the majority to the opposition without ideological connections. The country is taken hostage by this political class which has monopolized all the resources. This observation is the starting point of our commitment.

Then, our party took part in the first citizen primaries in the DRC, organized by the Alternative platform for a new Congo [which brings together civil society organizations and citizen movements]. It was at the end of this process that I was designated a candidate.

We also took part in popular consultations led by the citizen network Pona Congo [“for the Congo” in Lingala] from which we drew specifications. This is the first time in our country that a candidate has defended a program based on consultations with the population.

We are in a continental country with a significant number of ethnic groups. As long as we do not resolve the question of nationality in the DRC, there will always be manipulation. In the east of the country, for example, there are land conflicts linked to nationality. Not to mention that neighboring countries have participated in wars and rebellions which have caused the deaths of millions of Congolese, which exacerbates tensions. The disastrous social situation also encourages this withdrawal into identity. Some political actors have no limits and manipulate this issue to maintain themselves or to gain power.

As long as the DRC has not rebuilt a minimum of state, that is to say a civil administration and a functioning defense and security system, this conflict will never be resolved. Internal accountability is extremely important. We are in a country where you can wake up one morning, take 500 men, 500 Kalashnikovs and settle down somewhere. State authority almost does not exist in the east of the country. Especially since this area has many natural resources, easily exploitable without industry and with high added value, such as gold or coltan.

The various rebellions resulted in mixing, mixing and integration into the army. Today, the leaders of these movements are still politically active. In addition, the population has not been identified for decades. I’m 40 and have never had an ID card. How do you want to resolve security issues in these conditions?

Once we have resolved this internal question, we will have to go to the countries involved in this conflict, in particular Rwanda which has had a strategy of destabilizing the east of the DRC for more than twenty years. Today, this country is perhaps identified internationally as a state in which governance is a model. But if this is the case, it is also because at the same time Rwanda has the capacity to mobilize non-declarable resources, particularly in the DRC.

This electoral campaign is one of the worst that the Congo has known. Today we have candidates, Félix Thisekedi and Moïse Katumbi, who are doing the same thing. They put a lot of money into mobilizing voters. During their meetings, they insult each other. There is no substantive debate.

Concerning the rally, today we are witnessing a transfer window which seems to have been prepared in advance. If we want things to happen, groups must come together. But these coalitions must be made on the basis of certain criteria.

There are discussions with him as well as with Doctor Denis Mukwege [Nobel Peace Prize in 2018]. Now the question is: can we pool our political visions to come together?

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was set up almost two years late and yet the candidates demanded that constitutional deadlines be respected. Then, the appointment of CENI staff was strongly contested. The electoral register as well as the logistical organization also pose problems. Two weeks before the elections, the ballots have not yet arrived even though we have more than 75,000 polling stations, some of which are difficult to access. All this can in no way lead to a peaceful electoral process. We all went into this knowing that there will be cheating and that the outcome is known. Each group is preparing for a ruthless confrontation.

Those who think that this election is less risky than the previous one have understood nothing. In 2018, we did not have an opponent who had almost as much financial means as the authorities. Furthermore, today there is an actor that no one thinks about but who can use violence, it is the former president Joseph Kabila [who is not a candidate]. What better alibi than poorly organized elections or election-related conflicts to enable him to preserve his interests?

If we add to this the conflict between Rwanda and the DRC which has never reached this level of violence, we will find ourselves in a catastrophic situation. However, the Congo needs to rebuild itself.