Africa and the Middle East

Kabila's ambition endangers Congo 6-3-17

Source: "Congo: match in a tinderbox"         

Congo timeline: ruled (as Zaire) by dictator Mobuto Sese Seko from 1965 to 1997 until overthrown by Rwandan-backed rebels who installed Kabila as new ruler. Country and region dealt with civil war post-1997. Congo has stabilized under the son of Kabila, Joseph. But his term of office expired 6 months ago. Why have there been no elections? In the Kasai province in central Congo, a running conflict has been going on since August ’16 against a tribal militia called the Kamuina Nsapu (the “Black Ants). This civil war is preventing elections and keeping Kabila in power. Kasai is also the traditional home of the Congolese opposition - Le Rassemblement. They think Kabila has engineered the Black Ant conflict to have an excuse to stay in power long enough to change the constitution and remove his term limits.

The Congolese economy is dependent upon copper, cobalt and diamonds. Both copper and cobalt have had price declines. The central bank has resorted to printing more francs to pay the bills given the copper and cobalt revenue declines and the franc has lost half its value since November 2016. Seko-era corruption and the civil war have resulted in a poor infrastructure meaning that Congo must import almost everything,including food.