Tuesday, September 12, 2006

DRC election showdown beckons foreign leaders

In a country where inflammatory reporting rules the day and the veracity of print media is sold to the highest bidder, I was surprised to see a surprisingly balanced article appearing in yesterday's Le Potentiel, the premier Kinshasa daily. It described the recent arrival of a slew of international bigwigs to reinforce the tenuous truce holding between vice-president Bemba and President Kabila as they await the final electoral showdown of October 29.

RSA's Thabo Mbeki, the EU's Javier Solana, the UK Development Minister Hilary Benn are just a few of the well-intentioned notables taking time out from their hectic schedules to personally visit the two candidates, and make a final plea for a peaceful outcome.

An extract from Benn's speech to the press:

« Au cours de mes entretiens aujourd’hui avec le président Kabila ainsi que le vice-président Bemba, je leur ai dit qu’en tant que dirigeants potentiels de ce pays, qu’ils devraient démontrer les mêmes engagements pour la démocratie que le peuple. Le verdict des urnes et non la violence, constituent l’unique voie par laquelle chacun de deux hommes se passera pour un dirigeant crédible de la RDC. »

Nothing could be more clear or true for the two leaders, in whose hands lies the future of the Congolese people. One can only hope that, for once, Bemba and Kabila were actually listening, as they sat sharpening their knives.

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