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 Is it in DR Congo best interest to emulate the Ivory Coast crisis? If so, what is going to be the impact on the economic development and regional stability of Central -Africa?

                                                       By Reverend Jean –Bosco Kanyemesha 

The recent elections in Ivory Coast marked the turning of a new page to the legacy of war and conflict which has divided the country during the last seven years. The early allegiance between Laurent Ggabo’s administration and the insurgent movement of Guillaume Soro ended two years of civil disorder since starting back in 2003.  

Immediately, the creation of a national unity government containing both actors materialized and was seen as an encouraging step towards peace and reconciliation for most Ivoirians. Beyond doubts, the act of reconciliation fulfilled the will of many in-country citizens as well the international community; to put a stop to the ongoing crisis by achieving a firm ground for conflict resolution paved way for democracy and stability to settle in.    

As a fact, the government of power sharing has constituted a foundation which has led the country to advocate national elections so as to conclude the process of stabilisation and democratisation in Ivory Coast.  The presidential election that took place in December 2010 saw Alassane Ouatara as the main challenger of the incumbent president Laurent Gbabo, after being  it postponed some five times. The result of such election did not pleased Mr. Gbabo and instead of bringing unity and peace it brought chaos, instability and division. 

However, the Ivorian crises need to be a matter of reflection for African countries and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular. This country is at the starting point of its run off for the second official presidential election since the official end of war in 2003. However, by observing the Ivorian Coast election path, it is obvious to say that there was a trickle - down effect with the Zimbabwean and Kenyan post – election outcomes which also generated conflicts and unrest. This symptomatic result is taking place today in several countries in Africa; hence the fear exists since this type of behaviour and undemocratic model of governance can be implemented on countries enduring future elections.

In the D.R.C, there is some apprehension, for more instability and economical down turn, if this one resume emulating the Ivorian model, in view of the fact that Congo has experienced one of the most deadly conflict since World War II. In turn, it can prolong the stabilisation process of the socio-economic sector and perpetuate the ongoing clashes with the evil forces dwelling in the Eastern regions of the country.3 

On the other hand, remarkable effort has been made by the DRC government to insure the economy’s take off by working towards debt relief with World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Club de Paris.  Furthermore, roaming in such path, can damage the Chinese infrastructures program deliberations which intent to improve the population quality of life. 

To clarify the above information, reports from the IMF confirm that the DRC has succeeded to get a reduction of its international debt after reaching the completion point of the HIPIC program of the World Bank and alike. Figures suggest that the country’s loan’s debt was reduced and has generated a total saving of $ 12.3 Billion, around £8.1 Billion for the advantage of DRC.  Additionally, the Club de Paris has pledged to intervene in favour to by offering further  debt relief in cancelling $350 million of external debt. 

At the present, the DRC is making debt repayments of approximately $300 million (£198m) every year but under this new initiative 90 percent of DRC external debt is erased. This has given an opportunity for the government to re- allocate money and creating space in the public budget to be spent on priority programs such as roads, railways, schools, hospitals and the rebuilding of its human capital. 

Another report from World Bank has identified an economic growth of 6.2 percent in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009 and forecast to accelerate to 7 percent with an average of point 5 in 2011, and also it confirm the authorities’ strategy with the Chinese contract to support large-scale infrastructure investments could significantly boost growth, provided that high-return projects are given priority. 

Moreover, the Chinese project for infrastructures’ restructuration  constitutes an important factor for the reinstatement of economical development. The establishment of this new project can contribute to the expansion of a modern structure for development and address the problematic of economic production by enhancing the social development and macroeconomic stabilization, which could be an important basis  for the reshaping of the DRC overall development.

 Unarguably, the above demonstrate clearly the efforts made by the DRC government to guarantee the country’s economic recovery which is currently in a decisive task of restructuring the development mechanism that can allows the expansion of trade, industry and social care, which has experienced a systematic dismantling in the last fifty years. Definitely, for mentioned reasons DRC’s leaders must understand the reality, by measuring the economic and humanitarian impact that can result from the emulation of Ivory -Coast political manoeuvre, acknowledging that it might complicate further the country’s governance dilemma and hinder the political and economic stability achieved so far.

In the case of Congolese elections reach to the same standstill, there are some questions that urge serious response: What is going to be the reaction of the DRC neighbours in the case of a new mass migration in their territories perhaps promoting a climate of insecurity? What is going to be their response to this situation? It is a fact that the Eastern DRC continues to be the theatre of multiple atrocities such as mass rape of women and children and neither the central government nor the United Nations forces are able to -control.

Honestly, the consequences of an internal crisis in DRC may well be harmful for the regional security and stability as most of the countries surrounding the DRC are themselves object of internal conflict and instability, as the case of Sudan, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.     

In fact, a crisis in DR Congo can trigger the expansion of dissidents and degenerates to armed conflicts or in regional warlordism which could cause severe instability to the Central region of Africa, specifically to the Great Lakes region.

On the other hand, it can constitute a rational for many countries to create a vanguard pre-emptive action in order to protect their internal stability by raiding the DRC territory to create a buffer zone against any attempt to undermine their peace and stability as was the case of Rwanda in the pursuit of FDLR and Uganda in the search of LRA in the recent years, which the most has turn to an illicit mining exploitation. 

Beyond reasonable doubt, the Ivorian post-electoral crisis and consequent model of governance is not a desirable model for the development of Africa and its replication which is still present in countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya and now the Ivory Coast provide a dire illustration of the new African governance model. Nevertheless substantial doubt remains whether the DRC leaders perceive this danger and understand the true impact on the development and regional stability of the central Africa and particularly the Great Lakes regions of Africa.  Consequently the question is to know what can be done to prevent this issue to be replicated in the DRC. The response to this question is a matter of reflections from the Congolese elite and Aid donors, who are contributing for DRC stabilisation and economic recovery, particularly the United Kingdom, European Union and China, now the main donor in DRC.

In conclusion, DRC elite also need to work together and avoid personal interests by fostering national unity, peace and good governance. This could establish a strong flourishing economy, lasting peace and security which will constitute the pattern of a strong economical regeneration and firm regional stability; which could enhance a favourable atmosphere for foreign investor and business expansion which will bring further growth and development; this is model of development adopted by Ghana, Namibia and currently Angola. 

But to achieve this International community should be involved in the election process to insure transparency and security, for example on vote counting and protecting presidential candidates. - MONUC mission to be redefined to protect civilians in case of conflicts and make clear accountability of leaders involved. - Aid should be conditional and measured by targets achieved and structured by a monitoring system viable .- Faith could play a role of reconciliation and peace to facilitate national reconciliation in the post – election period to strength the new democracy and ensure stability and economical growth ; as was the case of South Africa Republic.

Article references:

Q&A: Ivory Coast's crisis :http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3567349.stm
Q&A: Ivory Coast's crisis :http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3567349.stm
Congo: No Stability in Kivu despite Rapprochement with Rwanda

DEBT RELIEF FOR AFRICA: IMF, World Bank Support $12.3 Billion Debt Relief for DR Congo (2010)
Democratic Republic of Congo: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/13/39/40577125.pdf  (2008)
DR of Congo: Country Brief
Congo: No Stability in Kivu despite Rapprochement with Rwanda
Guns, Money and Cell Phones


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