Guest blogger Jason Stearns recaps some of the recent developments leading up to the Democratic Republic of the Congo's elections, scheduled for next month.
I have been posting irregularly over the past few weeks. Here are some stories you may have missed over the last week that relate to elections.
Attack on Lukolela:
Compared to many incidents in the East, this attack seemed minor, but has a strong symbolic value. According to Kinshasa, on Oct. 6 an armed group attacked the fishing village of Lukolela, along the border with The Republic of Congo (ROC) around 500 km from the capital Kinshasa. Five of the attackers were arrested, allegedly carrying residency permits from the ROC and signed orders from General Faustin Munene, a dissident DR Congolese officer.
Immediately, the ROC government dismissed the claims as a set-up by the DRC government, saying "if those who are organizing the elections are not ready, they should say so, but they need to leave others out of this." Its minister of interior scoffed at the idea that the attackers had signed orders from General Munene, wondering how Munene could sign orders if he is in prison in their capital Brazzaville.
In response, Kinshasa sent a large delegation of 21 officials to Brazzaville to show them proof of the attack.
This back-and-forth comes to the backdrop of tense relations between the two countries. DRC officials have suggested that the armed men who attacked the presidential residence in February came from across the river, and Brazzaville has still not responded to an extradition request for DRC's two main western rebel leaders: General Munene and Udjani Mangbama. ROC President Sassou Nguesso visited Kinshasa in April to discuss these security issues with his counterpart, but no concrete steps have been taken to ameliorate relations.
Gizenga finally makes his move: