May 19, 2016
Conversation with Congolese Opposition Leaders
By Africa Center
Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham welcomed participants, introduced Kamitatu and the other members of the delegation, and set the stage for discussion, noting that earlier in the morning, President Joseph Kabila’s government issued an arrest warrant for former Katanga Governor Moïse Katumbi, the G7’s joint presidential candidate, accusing him of hiring American mercenaries to overthrow the regime.
In his remarks, Kamitatu pointed to the arrest warrant as further proof of Kabila’s intention to refuse hold presidential elections later this year and that the Congolese political space is firmly closed to political opposition. He called for the US to impose targeted sanctions on the Kabila regime, aimed at reopening the political sphere and forcing Kabila to organize the presidential election later this year, as mandated by the 2006 Constitution.
Read Kamitatu's full remarks below.
The ensuing discussion focused on how Kabila has consistently attempted to employ political and administrative technicalities to extend his control of the country beyond the constitution’s strict two-term limit. The delegation stressed that any continued dialogue with the regime should focus narrowly on the technical administration of national elections within the time frame stipulated by the Constitution. Discussion also touched on public opinion in the DRC and participants noted that, while the regime struggles to pay much of the national security sector, Kabila continues to control a small cohort of well-paid personnel that could be used to repress future political protests.
The delegation included the following members of parliament: the Honorable José Endundo, the Honorable Francis Kalombo, the Honorable Sama Lukonde Kyenge, and the Honorable Didier Molisho. Other participants in the event included the Honorable Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; the Honorable William Garvelink, former US Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Anthony Gambino, former Mission Director for the Democratic Republic of the Congo at USAID.
This event was made possible in part through generous support from United for Africa's Democratic Future.