What is DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s game plan?

Saturday December 29 2018

joseph kabila

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila sits in a garden at his ranch on December 10, 2018 in Kinshasa. PHOTO | JOHN WESSELS | AFP 

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Should the Congo elections go on smoothly, President Joseph Kabila will make history as the first leader to preside over a peaceful transition since Independence in 1960.

But observers say he will just continue to rule by proxy, should his handpicked candidate, Emmanuel Shadary, win because he is a weak leader with no political network.

It does not paint Kabila in good light that he delayed polls for two years on grounds of lack of resources, but at the same time, refusing the support of international donors.

Ominous signs are that the government has refused European and US election observers, has insisted on the use of doubtful new electoral machine, has violently disrupted opposition campaigns, and now the electoral body has postponed elections in three opposition strongholds.

Stephanie Wolters, the head of the division for conflict prevention and risk analysis at the Institute for Security Studies said that President Kabila made it clear that he will not completely exit from the scene by announcing that he could contest again in 2023.

Ms Wolters said that President Kabila only agreed to hold elections after pressure from Western countries and key Southern African Development Community members, South Africa and Angola, threatened to intervene and remove him forcibly.


Angola is often affected by political crisis in Congo as it receives the majority of refugee.

The United States had also imposed a firm condition that President Kabila hold elections before the end of this year, but the initial December 23 date had to be pushed to December 30 after fire burnt electoral material in Kinshasa.

According to the constitution, the president is required to leave office after two five-year terms and automatically becomes a member of the Senate.