Why the Congo Matters

On Tuesday, March 15, the Africa Center launched its newest issue brief, Why the Congo Matters. The study, authored by Senior Fellow Dr. Gérard Prunier, explores the escalating domestic political tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and makes the case for increased global engagement to prevent the descent of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country into violence.

Africa Center Director Dr. J. Peter Pham welcomed attendees and introduced the event by noting the importance of DRC’s scheduled elections later this year. Despite the strict term limits constitutionally barring President Joseph Kabila from remaining in power, his administration is attempting to employ administrative technicalities to delay the selection of his successor, a move that is likely to result in widespread civil unrest and violence.

In his remarks, Prunier underscored the strategic, economic, and humanitarian interests that the US and Europe have in the DRC. Politically, Prunier argued, the country is at vital juncture and international inaction could have grave, long-lasting effects on the broader regional security in the Great Lakes Region.

DSC 0309 FEAT3Gérard Prunier responding to a question from the audience.

In a response to Prunier’s remarks, the Honorable Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, agreed on the risk of international inaction in the Congo and highlighted the impact that neighboring countries as well as the international community have on the country’s domestic political situation and broader regional stability.

DSC 0364 Feat1The Honorable Herman J. Cohen, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Participants at the event included General James L. Jones, Jr., former National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security; the Honorable Bisa Williams, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; several former US Ambassadors; and numerous representatives of government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

This issue brief is made possible through generous support from United for Africa’s Democratic Future.

DSCRead the issue brief here.

Image: From left to right, J. Peter Pham, Gérard Prunier, and Hon. Herman Cohen.