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DRC ON THE BRINK OF BREAKAWAY: Fears Of Strong Push For Balkanization Grow In The Wake Of Revelations CENI Is Fixing The Vote For Another Disputed Mandate For Tshisekedi

Tension is mounting in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the country builds up to the December 20, 2023 general elections with reports that the electoral commission is designing a systematic mechanism seeking to deliver a rigged victory for incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi. This has triggered the population especially in Katanga which is warning that such an outcome will be a recipe for anarchy and will result in the balkanization of the vast central African nation.

The ensuing frustrations hinge on the lack of sufficient equipment at various registration centers to register the voting population in Katanga. In other regions, the UDPS is given acres of space to first register its members after which the party leadership is duplicating voter’s cards. These electoral malpractices exacerbated by high levels of corruption and deals that President Tshisekedi and his family are cutting for themselves are increasingly frustrating the Congolese population.

Katanga, a south east mineral rich region of the DRC, was once an independent state after it seceded shortly after independence in 1960 through to 1963 and the population has often flirted with the idea to pursue self-rule. The narrative is growing ahead of this year’s election with others calling for the balkanization of the DRC if the elections are not free and fair.

A cross-section of Congolese interviewed by DRCNewsToday in Katanga say they were in favour of breaking away from the rest of the country if this year’s elections were not credible, free and fair.

Grand Katanga, which is now divided in four provinces namely Lualaba, Haut Lomami, Haut Katanga and Tanganyika, has a collection of individuals who believe they have a better chance of prospering their region should they be allowed to govern themselves.

In random interviews by DRCNewsToday correspondents over the last few weeks in Kolwezi, Kamina, Kalemie, Moba and Haut Lomami, the atmosphere of a tense environment among the people is evident.

Katangese are turning to the US State Department, the United Nations, the European Union to take keen interest in what they allege are plans by President Tshisekedi to rig the elections by first tampering with the registration process.

“On one end, the election is being rigged and on the other side Tshisekedi and his family is busy grabbing mines from rightful owners and giving them to his friends from Dubai who have helped him open offshore accounts to plunder DRC minerals and resources. Where’s the UK government, Germany, Belgium and other powerful countries? Where’s the State Department, the EU and UN when all this is happening?,” asked Kasongo Mambepa.

Mambepa says high unemployment levels, lack of access to basic needs such as clean water, good road network and high food prices are some of the things that have hit the core of the Congolese population while they watch their leaders enjoy lavishly.

“This guy is is just a plunderer and as Community Katangese, we will not allow the elections to be rigged. If they steal the elections like we have seen the way they are doing in the registration, we will declare independence from the rest of Congo,” he said.

Mambepa said Congolese want unity but will not allow a leader that is imposed on them through rigged elections “like was the case in 2018 when Martin Fayulu had his victory stolen and given to Tshisekedi.”

Mambepa added that Congolese understand that a credible outcome of the election will translate into better prospects of everyone in the country getting a fair share of the country’s mineral wealth as it has been the wish.

Mwana Bute said anyone who is losing property out of political games by the Tshisekedi leadership or those investors that had lost their mines should be given back when a change of government takes place in December.

“We don’t want Arab investors in DRC because as Katangese, we have always been loyal to America; we have always supported America but it’s the Kasais that are treacherous,” he said.

“Look at what they are doing in Kakanda and Dilolo. The relatives to Tshisekedi and their Arab friends are all over. They are also disregarding our laws and making people work like slaves.”

Bute wondered why people from the Kasai region were a thorn in many Congolese’s flesh.

“How can one tribe, Kasai Central, be enemies with everyone?”

For part, Charlotte Kisese did not have kind words for Tshisekedi saying the head of state was using the war in eastern Congo as a pretext for postponing elections.

Kisese has accused President Tshisekedi of turning against Uganda president Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda in the deals they made which has led to escalated war in the east.

According to Kisese, the absence of an independent foreign observer mission may spell doom for the mineral rich central African nation.

“Those who promote democracy should behave like the Pope who has called for credible elections. Whoever wins fairly, we will congratulate them but we won’t allow America to betray us again like they did in 2018,” she warned. “There will be chaos in Congo if the people’s vote is stolen again and there will be no place for those who are getting minerals for batteries to do so.”

A recent visit to different parts of Katanga revealed a region in neglect. Despite the significant recourses the region contributes to the national budget, its roads are inaccessible and impassable. The link between Lubumbashi to Kalemie is a disaster so is the route between Kolwezi to Kasazi and Lubumbashi to Likasi onto Kolwezi.

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