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DRC – US: Mike Hammer calls proposed Tshiani law a ‘red line’

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 08:55

Mike Hammer and Moïse Katumbi on 9 September in Kashobwe. Africa presse

On 9 September, US ambassador Mike Hammer, an influential supporter of DRC's Félix Tshisekedi’s administration, met with businessman Moïse Katumbi, who is also one of the pillars of the 'Union Sacrée', to discuss the 2023 elections and the Tshiani Law.

Moïse Katumbi and Mike Hammer, the most media-savvy of the ambassadors accredited to Kinshasa, met in Kashobwe, the former’s native village, to take stock of several topics.

According to our information, the US ambassador informed Katanga’s former governor of the US’s commitment to ensure free, democratic and transparent elections are held in 2023, within the timeframe set by the Constitution. He insisted that these elections would be inclusive and “better” than those held in 2018.

Red line

Although the US has invested in Tshisekedi since his inauguration in 2018, it highlighted its ‘legitimate concerns’ surrounding the transparency of the December 2018 electoral process.

Looking ahead to the next polls, the US ambassador is thus not alone in flagging concerns about the transparency of the electoral process. In recent weeks, several Western chancelleries, including Monusco – led by Guinea’s Bintou Keïta, who spoke in July before the UN Security Council – have called for deadlines to be met and credible, independent elections to be held.

Hammer also informed his host of Washington’s position on the proposed Tshiani law, calling it a “red line”. The law would see that only Congolese born to Congolese parents are eligible for top senior positions.  The diplomat has thus aligned himself with the position defended by other political actors, including Katumbi himself.

If the Tshiani law is adopted, Katumbi, born to a Greek father from the island of Rhodes, would not be allowed to run in the next presidential election (although he has not yet stated his intentions). He sees the proposed law as a direct attack on him. Katumbi has already made it clear that his party will leave the ruling coalition if this bill is debated in the National Assembly. It has already been tabled in parliament on 8 July.

In recent months, Katumbi, who has contacts within the US administration, has been actively networking across the Atlantic ahead of the 2023 elections. In fact, he signed several lobbying contracts in June and July, as he is eager to get closer to Joe Biden’s administration.

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