Upcoming elections crucial to Congo

It has been 51 years since the Democratic Republic of the Congo received its independence from Belgium—more than five decades since the people received their alienated right of freedom—and the country will have its second democratic election November 28.

Since the 1960s Congo has experienced leadership from Joseph Kasa-Vubu, Mobutu Sese-Sako, Laurent-Désiré Kabila and his son, Joseph. The ideals of democracy have been practiced to a certain extent, but this election could be a defining moment for the Congolese people.

Among the 11 candidates for the presidency, Etienne Tshisekedi stands out as the only significant challenger to the Kabila regime; some consider him to be a pioneer of the opposition. His will to fight on behalf of the Congolese people dates back to the early days of Mobutu. Unlike years past, the Congolese are more committed and educated on the subject of electing governmental officials.

The UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress) party led by Thsisekedi is considered to be the only major threat to the establishment PPRD (People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy) of President Kabila. The UDPS is doing all that it can, and taking all the necessary steps, to ensure a fair election.

Moments such as these are very interesting for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fact of this matter is that there is always a potential for violence. Apart from the potential the Congo endures, what gives me hope in such unknown times, is that the United States currently has a presence in the region. Many voices calling for change are coming from different corners of the world. In Europe, the “Combattants” movement has boycotted music and the different distractions that have kept the people of Congo from paying attention to their elected officials.

In the United States, a lot of organizations have taken initiatives to help the region. In the Central Valley, non-profit organizations such as M.C.C. (Mennonite Central Committee) and Mama Makeka House of Hope are helping, educating and providing different resources for the people of Congo.  Student-led organizations such as K.F.C. (Kulungu For Congo) have also spoken extensively on the situation. It is essential that the international community send observers to make certain that a fair election is implemented. The people deserve to have their voices heard. After all the corruption, manipulation and death of innocent citizens, the time has come and Congo needs the international support in ushering this new era so that true democracy can finally take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I feel the sense of leadership rising from bottom up: the idea that a country is capable of being prosperous when motivated people are the engine of the movement. Yes, it has been a long night for the Congo and my people have strived to better their social situation in spite of injustice and corruption.

Regardless of who is going to win this election, I salute a wakening call. I see the unyielding hope filling the spirit of young patriots across the globe singing the song of change. This is what boosts my spirit every morning and gives me confidence that we are going to open a new chapter in the history of Congo and we will give a great meaning of the ideals of democracy. May God bless the Congo.

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