DRC: a controversial Francophone summit

Kinshasa hosts the Francophone summit from Saturday 13 to Sunday 14/10/12.

Congolese protest in Paris against rigged elections of 28 November 2011 – photo Jelena Prtoric

For several months Congolese inside and outside their country mobilised to get the summit moved to another country as a way of denouncing the excessive level of human rights abuse by Joseph Kabila’s government.

In the past, such summits have been held in locations different from those initially agreed. That was the case in 1991 when Kinshasa was again the planned city, but the regime of Mobutu scored very low in terms of human rights. In 2009, the conference had to be transferred from Madagascar to France for the same motive.

The other reason that Congolese objected to the summit was the fact that by holding it in DRC, attending leaders would somehow legitimise Kabila regime which emerged from a rigged general election of November 28, 2011.

Supporters of the main leader of the Congolese opposition, Etienne Tshisekedi, attest that their candidate won the public contest. In addition, many countries and international organisations acknowledged as well the flawed character of those Congolese elections.

Though there are different reasons for not supporting Kabila regime, the majority of those attending will mainly be in Kinshasa for economic motives.

DRC has in its soil colossal reserves of strategic raw material necessary for electronic devices including mobiles and computers and several others. Unfortunately, the country is today ranked at the bottom of UN index for human development behind countries such as Somalia and Afghanistan.

Patrick Mbeko, Canadian of Congolese origin and writer, indicates that DRC does not seem to have a functioning government, otherwise nobody can understand how a country with so mamy resources could be ranked so low, have 50,000 child soldiers, 500,000 raped women, and almost no health system or judiciary for its population.

Further to the seriousness of the situation of human rights in the country, the French president Francois Hollande declared on Tuesday 8/10/12 in New York that it was not acceptable. But the Belgian minister for foreign affairs, Didier Reynders, who arrived in Kinshasa on Thursday 10/10/12 for the Summit, announced not to share such a strong opinion, which for him was destined to appeal to the French audience in France.

In order to promote democracy in DRC, the French president had announced that he would meet the leader of the Congolese opposition, Etienne Tshisekedi. He also explained that he would be clear with the Congolese president on democratic principles and good governance.

Since 1996 the Democratic Republic of Congo is suffering from a war of invasion and occupation which is fueled by interests of Western multinationals and others from different places around the world. They all operate through local proxies, Rwanda and Uganda, and occasionally Burundi. The death toll from created permanent instability is today 8 millions of victims, and still counting.

The Francophone summit is held while part of Congolese territory is occupied by M23, a rebel movement supported by Rwanda and operating from North Kivu province of Eastern Congo.

Napoleon Bonaparte – French Emperor

The summit itself does not have much to do with ordinary Congolese. It represents, like other frameworks built on colonial past such as Commonwealth, a structure which brings together most of ex French colonies. Such groupings are there to perpetuate dependence of less developed countries to their past colonialist master.

That the Francophone summit be held at a time when Europe and the overall developed world are engulfed in a serious financial crisis, and in a country with huge opportunities of development, this makes secondary any other consideration for attending leaders.

The persistent question that remains is how ordinary Congolese who for decades have suffered from different incompetent governments will see their conditions changed through the Francophone summit’s display of egos of attending leaders.

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