Update on Recent Developments in the DRC

On Thursday, April 21, the Africa Center hosted Richard Gittleman, President and Executive Director of United for Africa’s Democratic Future, for a luncheon roundtable on recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham welcomed participants and set the stage for the discussion, explaining that presidential elections in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country are constitutionally required to take place this year. He noted that President Joseph Kabila’s actions thus far do not indicate he is planning to either hold elections or step down at the end of his term, which expires December 19.

Gittleman, who just returned from a visit to the DRC, where he has worked for more than three decades since his stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the country, shared his observations on several key developments—including the government’s lack of preparation for required elections, its increasing repression and closing of political space, the dynamics of the political opposition, and US policy towards the Congo. In 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Kabila to urge him to uphold the country’s constitution; President Barack Obama followed with a phone call to Kabila last year to reiterate the same message.

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In the lively discussion that ensued, attendees discussed various scenarios for the coming months and agreed that greater engagement was necessary to avoid the worst possible outcomes.

The roundtable built on the conversation started by last month’s publication of Why the Congo Matters, by Africa Center Senior Fellow Dr. Gérard Prunier.

pdfRead the Publication (PDF)

UADF LOGOThis event is in partnership with and generously supported by United for Africa’s Democratic Future.

Image: Richard Gittleman, President and Executive Director of United for Africa’s Democratic Future