Kabila wins – Are we surprised?

Finally, the electoral commission in the DRC announced today that incumbent President Joseph Kabila has won a second term in DRC’s second election since semi-peace was restored after decades of bloody civil war. Are we surprised? Not necessarily, considering Kabila’s huge following, his ability to maintain stability for the past ten years, and the opposition’s ineptitude. The only true challenger for Kabila, Etienne Tshisekedi managed to gain an impressive percentage of the vote despite recent calls for violence that turned off many voters in the country.

What will be more interesting is what happens next. Immediately, the international community has already predicted that there will be some clashes between the national police and opposition supporters in response to the election results. Most opposition candidates have already declared the results null due to polling issues, including thousands of missing names from voting registers and sightings of pre-filled ballots being flown into the country.

In the long term, the Congolese will be holding their breath to see what President Kabila decides to do with this second term and onward. He has the opportunity to continue stabilizing the country and adding to its economic and human development. However, Congolese politics has a long history of kleptocracy and looting of the state. President Kabila’s goals could go either way in this second term. A lot of that will hinge on his goals for the future. Will he attempt to amend the constitution and remain in power indefinitely, like so many African big-men before him? Or will he make take the less traveled road and leave power peacefully after this second term? The history of Congo favors the former scenario, which would of course mean yet another turbulent turn for Congo. The opposition have already shown they are willing to take to violence to depose Kabila; they are not going to accept a third term from the president quietly.

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