Note: This op-ed originally appeared in TIME and was written by John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-founder of The Sentry and Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo will soon hold elections that could dictate whether it falls deeper into instability and conflict or begins to lay the groundwork for a more peaceful future. Already, government security forces have been accused of violent crackdowns on opposition supporters that have left over 50 wounded and at least seven dead in two weeks in early December. The election, currently scheduled for Dec. 30 although some regions won’t be able to vote, could mark the country’s first democratic transfer of power since independence. It’s an important moment for the Congolese people, and policymakers should focus on doing all they can to push the government to make the election credible, prevent wider violence, and hold officials accountable who corrupt the process.
But regardless of what happens on election day, or if the election is postponed once more, there are deeper forces at work that will help determine Congo’s future. The long-term, structural issue in Congo is that the state has been hijacked largely for the purpose of looting the country’s vast natural resource wealth, and the incentives for this system need to be changed in order for there to be real transformation in Congo…
Click here to read the full op-ed.