Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham writes for the Huffington Post on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s upcoming presidential election and whether President Joseph Kabila will step down now that he has reached his term limit:
Not long after Nigerians, for the first time in their country’s history, voted out the incumbent head of state last month–and after President Goodluck Jonathan promptly called to graciously concede to his challenger, retired Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari–President Barack Obama made a call of his own to Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Obama, citing the historic triumph of democracy in Nigeria, encouraged the Congolese ruler to make free and fair elections and a peaceful transition next year his legacy.
The DRC has a population of more than 77 million people spread across the 11th largest national territory in the world. It is endowed with immense mineral reserves, currently valued by some estimates at more than $24 trillion. Fair and free elections in such a vast country would not only honor the aspirations of its people but also put wind in the sails of democracy across Africa. This is an objective worthy of the United States’ own principles as well as it practical interest in encouraging political stability on the continent.