Great Lakes Region
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The latest presidential and parliamentary elections were held on November 28th, 2011. President Joseph Kabila was confirmed in office with 48.95 % of the votes. His main challenger, Etienne Tsishekedi, who died in February 2017, reached 32.33 % of the votes.
The presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2016 were rescheduled for 2017.
Under mediation of the Congolese Conference of Bishops (Conférence épiscopale nationale du Congo, CENCO) the government and opposition signed an agreement on the political transition process on December 31st, 2016, the so-called Silvester agreement. It stipulates that President Kabila could stay in office until the end of 2017, but was required to nominate a representative of the opposition as head of government. The parties to the agreement also agreed that Kabila could not stand as a candidate for a third term as President. This agreement was welcome by the UN UN Security Council in resolution 2348. Despite the agreement to holdelections by the end of 2017, this seems unlikely due to the lack of political will by Kabila and the government. Elections are therefore likely to be held at the earliest in 2018.
The human rights situation in the DRC is a cause of concern. Arbitrary detentions, torture, mass executions and the recruitment of child soldiers as well as police and military brutality are widely critizised. The number of political prisoners trippled within one year (2016 – 2017). The region of Kasai in particular has witnessed many violent clashes following the murder of the local militia leader Kamuini Nsapu. Around 5,000 people were killed and 1.5 million expelled from their homes – in March 2017 two members of the UN were abducted and murdered.
Due to a resurgence of the former rebel organization M23 the situation in the provinces of Kivu and Tanganyika in the East of the country is also extremely tense.
On March 31st, 2017 the UNSC extended the mandate of MONUSCO until March 31st, 2018. The 16,000 strong force is the most expensive foreign deployment by the UN worldwide.
Since 1986 State President Yoweri Museveni (NRM, National Resistance Movement) is governing the country and was re-elected five times. In 2005 the constitution was changed to allow for an unlimited term in office. Museveni won the latest elections in February 2016 with 60.75% of the votes; Kizza Besigye, the candidate from the largest opposition party, FDC received 35.87% of the votes. The elections were strongly criticised by international observers, especially by EU election monitors. The main accusations include vote buying, attempts of intimidation, restrictions on the media, a biased election commission and frequent detentions of opposition candidates. Appeals were repealed by the Supreme Court in March 2016.
Despite the fact that the Constitution allows only for two terms in office, the current President Pierre Nkurunziza was officially presented by his party Conseil National Pour la Défense de la Démocratie–Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD) as candidate for the presidential elections. His nomination led to protests by the opposition and armed clashes between government forces and civilians. Due to violence many members of the opposition, independent journalists and human rights activists fled the country. In January 2017 Human Rights Watch (HWR) reported thatbrutal murders and torture had led to more than 350,000 people fleeing Burundi. Targeted killings, arbitrary detentions and torture occur on a daily basis. The next presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2020. President Nkurunziza has already made it known that he is considering standing once again as a presidential candidate. The government is currently striving to amend the constitution of 2005, which would allow for a fourth or an unlimited presidential term.
At the presidential elections held on August 4th, 2017 President Kagame won 98.66 % of the votes. Winning almost 99 % of votes the 59 years old Kagame outperfomed his own results from 2003 of 95 % and those from 2010 of 93 %. The high approval rate corresponds with the share of people who approved an amendment of the constitution which enables Kagame to stay in power until 2034. Kagame and his party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) pledged in their manifesto and their renewed Vision 2020 to double their achievements through industrialization, employment creation, improved access to education, electricity and health care. By 2020 Rwanda should reach the level of a middle income country (with an annual income per capita of 1,240 US$) and the number of people living below the poverty line should be reduced from the current 39 % to under 20 %. Access to electricity should be increased from 24.5 % to 70 % of the population.