With democratic and free elections, the first since 1965, only weeks away, it is imperative that the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) exercise courage and determination to ensure the vote's success. A grassroots government with a strong mandate is the only realistic hope of bringing peace, reconciliation, economic success, and improved standards of life to the citizens of the DRC.Under the auspices of an interim government led by pragmatic President Joseph Kabila, violence that had racked the nation from 1996-2002 known as "Africa's first world war" that saw the direct military involvement of Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, and Sudan at one time or another, has more or less subsided.
The only exception is the troubled eastern part of the country where Hutu rebels, remnants of the deposed Rwandan regime that had committed the continent's worst genocide (killing between 800,000 to 1,071,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a period of 100 days from April-July 1994), continue to stoke trouble. Their objective is to gain wealth and power through exploitation of the DRC's natural resources to finance their goal of regaining power in their homeland.Despite the high poverty, illiteracy and mortality rates, and lack of electricity and running water, the DRC is perhaps Africa's richest nation when it comes to natural resources.
With huge deposits of cobalt, copper, diamonds, and gold, and smaller deposits of silver, coal, manganese, tin, uranium, zinc, and oil, the country holds the potential of becoming an African economic power alongside South Africa and Nigeria. This is precisely the reason why foreign interests seek to write off the elections and to even perpetuate the conflict that has cost more than 4 million lives.As the Rev.
Israel Mulenda seeks to educate Congolese in Goma about the upcoming election, he shows a cartoon that accurately depicts the country's last ten years of history: "Vultures ferry diamonds, gold and cobalt out of Congo and carry machine guns and tanks in. Greedy bureaucrats gobble stacks of tax dollars, and soldiers clobber civilians." Tragically this is not an exaggeration considering that during the decade-long period of violence that has seen millions killed, maimed, raped, and/or driven from their homes, not a single individual nor entity of the 50 foreign interests currently exploiting the DRC's minerals has been harmed. Why? Because they share revenues earned from sales abroad with various rebel groups who then use these monies to purchase additional caches of arms.
In doing so, these private interests prolong the conflict and suffering borne by Congolese citizens.With the exception of the above-mentioned private interests, the international community has a lot riding on the success of these elections since their failure could result in the DRC disintegrating into anarchy subsisting of militia-run warring pseudo-states whose people and resources could be exploited to reignite and fuel the low-intensity warfare currently plaguing the country as well as to perhaps spread the conflict elsewhere on the African continent and fund terrorist causes, ultimately creating widerspread humanitarian crises and suffering. With more than $400 million invested since the highly successful December 2005 plebiscite that ratified a new constitution, United Nations and/or European Union forces must be willing to use military force to ensure that Hutu and other rebel groups cannot disrupt or thwart the coming democratic exercise in areas (e.g. Bunia, which remains in a state of war requiring tank patrols by UN peacekeepers) under their influence or even de facto control.
In addition, and even more importantly, the international community must make it clear that each group and party participating in the election recognize and honor the results if the vote is determined to have been transparent and fair by impartial observers.Having endured decades of dictatorship, a vicious war, "regular outbreaks of epidemics,", humanitarian crises that have displaced over a million people, and natural catastrophes such as Nyriagongo's 2002 eruption, DRC citizens have earned the right to shape their own destiny rather than acceding to international trusteeship that would amount to a new era of colonialism in which Western interests would be placed ahead of the country's national and ultimately their own personal interests. International trusteeship is the last thing the DRC needs.
Rather, what the 25 million people of the DRC need and deserve is "the right to make their own choice for? representatives, to control their own lands, to have freedom of expression" and most importantly to enjoy peace, security, and improved standards of living._____________________________________________________________________________________. Lydia Polgreen. Congo Nears Historic Election, Praying for Peace.
The New York Times. July 1, 2006. 1. UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Democratic Republic of Congo Donor Update 4 Jul 2006.
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Foreign powers are fuelling war in Congo. SocialistWorkeronline. 8 July 2006. 4 July 2006.
Sources:.Congo, Democratic Republic of the CIA ? The World Factbook. 29 June 2006. 4 July 2006. http://www.cia.
gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/cg.html.Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Wikipedia.com. 2006. 4 July 2006. http://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo.Heart of Africa: From bullets to the ballot. The Independent. 4 July 2006. 4 July 2006. http://news.
independent.co.uk/world/africa/article1159272.ece.Innocent Nkung. Foreign powers are fuelling war in Congo.
SocialistWorkeronline. 8 July 2006. 4 July 2006. http://www.socialistworker.co.
uk/article.php?article_id=9153.Lydia Polgreen. Congo Nears Historic Election, Praying for Peace.
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Rwandan Genocide. Wikipedia.com. 2006. 4 July 2006.
UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Democratic Republic of Congo Donor Update 4 Jul 2006. United Nations. 4 July 2006. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.
.William Sutherland is a published poet and writer.
He is the author of three books, "Poetry, Prayers & Haiku" (1999), "Russian Spring" (2003) and "Aaliyah Remembered: Her Life & The Person behind the Mystique" (2005) and has been published in poetry anthologies around the world. He has been featured in "Who's Who in New Poets" (1996), "The International Who's Who in Poetry" (2004), and is a member of the "International Poetry Hall of Fame." He is also a contributor to Wikipedia, the number one online encyclopedia.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=William_Sutherland.
By: William Sutherland