Democratic Republic of the Congo History

By | October 22, 2021

In March 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) found former Vice President Bemba guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes and sentenced him to 18 years in prison in June 2016. In the same year a domestic political conflict escalated over the scheduling of the constitutional parliamentary and presidential elections. In September 2016, the electoral commission announced that it would not be able to hold the elections due to a necessary revision of the electoral register. The decision sparked mass protests that claimed numerous lives. In October 2016, participants in a “National Dialogue” decided to postpone the elections to 2018 and the term of office of President Kabila, which actually expired on December 19, 2016 to extend until then. There were again bloody riots. The EU and the US imposed sanctions on the country. Shortly before the end of his term in office, Kabila appointed a new government. After difficult negotiations mediated by the Congolese Bishops’ Conference, parts of the opposition and representatives of the government signed an agreement on December 31, 2016, in which Kabila was guaranteed an extension of his term of office until new elections at the end of 2017. The agreement also included the establishment of a transitional government headed by a prime minister from among the opposition. Kabila also had to undertake to comply with the constitutional provision prohibiting him from running again for the office of president. With the death of Étienne Tshisekedi, the leader of the UDPS, the opposition lost its central figure on February 1, 2017. As a result, the implementation of the agreement concluded with Kabila was also delayed. On April 7, 2017, he finally appointed Bruno Tshibala Nzenze (* 1955) to the interim premier, who was in dispute with the UDPS over the successor to Tshisekedi had overtaken. Observers rated this as an attempt to split the opposing forces. On July 7, 2017, the electoral commission declared that the elections planned for 2017 could not take place due to unrest in the Kasai region. There, in the summer of 2016, clashes between regional militias and state security forces began, which escalated bloody and resulted in a large number of deaths. In June 2018, an International Criminal Court of Appeals acquitted former militia leader Bemba for procedural errors. As a result, Bemba returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to run for president in the December 2018 elections.

On December 30, 2018, according to EJINHUA.ORG, around 40 million registered voters voted for a new president. The election should have taken place at the end of 2016, but President J. Kabila refused to allow it to be carried out constitutionally after the end of his second term. The tension, constant delays and inconsistencies before the election, such as the destruction of thousands of electronic voting machines and the factual electoral exclusion of 1.2 million people because of the alleged Ebola risk, especially in the east of the country, could not prevent the democratic change of power. With the leader of the opposition alliance Lamuka (“Awakening”) Félix Tshisekedi (* 1963) a surprise winner was determined on 10.1.2019 with 38.6% of the votes. For a long time the opposition candidate Martin Fayulu (* 1956) (also Alliance Lamuka) had been in the lead in opinion polls, on election day he lost 34.8% of the vote. The preferred candidate of incumbent President J. Kabila, former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadaray (* 1960), received 23.8% of the vote. The chaos on election day, the long counting of ballot papers by the national election commission and the exclusion of candidates made many people doubt a free and fair election. Former Vice President Bemba was one of the candidates who were not allowed to stand for election. The comment Tshisekedis that Kabila is now a partner, not an opponent, fueled rumors of secret agreements with the outgoing government.

From the first settlement to the Belgian colony

From around 700 AD, the Bantu peoples settled in what is now the Congo. Certain states have been traceable since the coastal residents came into contact with Portuguese seafarers around 1500. In the interior of the country, too, there were monarchies of the Lunda, Luba and Mangbetu at this time; in the north the Zande ruled. The research trips of D. Livingstone and H. M. Stanley in particular aroused interest in the colonization of Central Africa in Europe in the 19th century.

Based on the Association Internationale du Congo (founded in 1879), the Belgian King Leopold II created the “Independent Congo State” (“Congo Free State”) as a private citizen with the consent of the major European powers ( Congo Conference, 1884–85). In sometimes protracted battles, Leopold II’s troops conquered the territory assigned to him, destroyed the empires of the Msiri (* around 1820, † 1891) and the Tippu Tip (* around 1837, † 1905), which were created around 1870 through the slave trade, and defeated until 1900 several uprisings down (“Congo horror”). Harsh criticism in Europe, especially in Great Britain, of Leopold II’s system of rule and exploitation . 1908 caused the Belgian parliament to transfer rule over the Congo state to the Belgian state (since then Belgian Congo ). The colony experienced an economic boom between the two world wars.

Democratic Republic of the Congo History