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DRC: Western Media, Foreign Meddlers and Elections

Heavy-Handed Transition Partners

Several bloggers resent the involvement of foreign transition partners and other neighboring countries whom they find heavy-handed in the electoral process. Le Blog du Congolais posted a UDPS declaration to that effect:

Le processus électoral, financé et piloté par la communauté internationale a cessé d’être une affaire des congolais pour devenir un moyen par lequel certains pays […]justifient leur immixtion dans les affaires congolaises en s’arrogeant le droit de décider dans tous les domaines de gestion de l’Etat congolais.

The electoral process, financed and driven by the international community, is no longer a Congolese affair but instead has become a means through which certain countries […] justify their meddling with Congolese affairs by seizing the right to make decisions in all areas of Congolese government.

Renouveau Congolais published an interview with Etienne Kabila, political party head, opponent to and estranged brother of Interim President Joseph Kabila in which he too complained about a heavy-handed foreign presence:

Dans mes précédentes déclarations publiées sur le web, j’ai eu à dénoncer le plan machiavélique de Mr Joseph Hyppolite KANAMBE et ses compatriotes Rwandais soutenus par des puissances étrangères pour mater davantage le peuple Congolais afin de bien piller les ressources du sous-sol et du sol congolais. […]J’ai un idéal : le Congo, mon pays, doit être dirigé par un Congolais

In previous online declarations, I denounced the macchiavelian plan of Joseph Hyppolite Kanambe [Joseph Kabila], his Rwandan compatriots and their foreign supporters to plunder Congolese raw materials. […] I have one ideal: the Congo, my country, should be governed by a Congolese.

UDPS Liege criticized the President of the electoral Commission, Rev. Malu-Malu, for his actions during a trip to Belgium:

Comme d’habitude l’homme de Dieu a toujours de compte à rendre aux Belges, aux rwandais et aux burundais et jamais aux congolais […].

As usual, that man of faith reports to the Belgians, the Rwandans and the Burundians but never to the Congolese […].

A Doomed, Already Decided Election?

Some, like Le Blog du Congolais, assumed that foreign transition partners had already decided the outcome of the election:

[…] tout est mis en place pour ne pas faire ombrage à un gagnant désigné d’avance dans les laboratoires méditerranéens, selon les critères de la main qui donne.

[…] everything was put in place so as not to upset a winner handpicked by Mediterranean laboratories, according to the criteria of the giving hand.

Renouveau Congolais interviewee Etienne Kabila shared in the pessimism:

Devons-nous aller aux élections ou pas? Pour légitimer les criminels de guerre? Pour légitimer les étrangers qui dirigent notre pays? Est ce que ces élections seront libres, transparentes et démocratiques?[…] Il est impossible d’organiser les élections démocratiques dans un Etat sans liberté d’expression où règne la répression, la torture, l’intimidation et j’en passe… C’est pourquoi mon parti politique la Mouvance des Nationalistes Patriotes pour le Renouveau ne sera pas partie prenante à ces elections.

Should we or should we not participate in the election? Should we legitimize war criminals? Should we legitimize the foreigners running our country? Will the election be free, transparent and democratic? […] It is impossible to organize democratic elections in a country without free speech, where repression, torture and intimidation prevail… That is why my political party Mouvance des Nationalistes Patriotes pour le Renouveau will not take part in the election.

Western Media and Tshisekedi

Le Blog du Congolais and UDPS Liege suggest there is as a trend in certain Western media to demonize opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Le Blog posted a UDPS declaration stating:

Un plan de diabolisation de l’UDPS, relayé par quelques médias étrangers est en cours d’exécution. Ce plan consiste à attribuer à l’UDPS les perturbations violentes qui seraient en préparation et alimenteraient les contestations naturelles consécutives à l’échec du processus électoral. C’est ainsi que les journaux New York Time du 26 mars 2006 sous le titre « Congo, with Iraq in mind » de Marc Lacey et le Soir du 4 avril 2006, présentent déjà l’UDPS comme « une bande de personnes violentes ayant à leur tête Etienne Tshisekedi ». La prochaine étape dans cette cabale sera celle de l’étiquette « parti terroriste » et la boucle sera bouclée.

A plan of demonization of UDPS, echoed by certain foreign media, is being rolled out. This plan consists in ascribing to UDPS the violent uproars that are allegedly being prepared and that will allegedly supplement the expected protests that should follow the failed electoral process. Hence the New York Times’ March 26, 2006 headline “Congo, with Iraq in mind” by Marc Lacey and Le Soir’s April 4, 2006 characterization of UDPS as a “violent gang with Etienne Tshisekedi at its head.” Next they’ll label UDPS terrorist and the cycle will be complete.

UDPS Liege echoed the analysis:

Les médias Belges n’ont cessé de féliciter clairement le président de la CEI du bon déroulement du processus et font sourd d’oreille à une quelconque revendication allant à l’encontre de ce scénario. Tout va bien au Congo ! Affirment-t-ils.

The Belgian media did nothing but congratulate the President of the Electoral Commission for a job well done and they keep ignoring any demands contrary to that scenario. Everything is going well in the Congo, they insist!

[…]Marie France Cros sur digital Congo.net […]traitant notre leader national Mr Tshisekedi wa Mulumba d’un grognard capricieux.

[Belgian journalist] Marie France Cros of Digital Congo.net […] calls our national leader Mr. Tshisekedi wa Mulumba a capricious grouch.

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