Ethiopia's decision to postpone its August 2020 elections indefinitely has raised political temperatures in the country, as both the government and opposition parties accuse each other of attempting a power grab.
“Extreme risk” of violence in the DRC electoral crisis
Elections due to be held in December are unlikely to occur, with many now fearing President Joseph Kabila will stay on beyond his constitutional mandate of two terms, triggering chaos.
“Actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends,” Maman Sidikou, who heads the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, told a UN Security Council meeting on 11 October.
He warns that MONUSCO will not be able to keep the peace if the worst case scenario comes to pass: “The coming period will certainly be extremely difficult. The tipping point in the serious violence could be reached very quickly.”
In September, dozens died after protests erupted following an announcement by the electoral commission that it would not hold polls, with the headquarters of opposition parties burned down.
Foreign powers are not pushing in the same direction as a united front. While Washington has imposed sanctions on two senior security officials implicated in suppressing the opposition, Paris has remained less willing to take a hard line on the Kabila regime.
The country’s economy is held hostage by the political uncertainty, with major projects such as the Grand Inga Dam and a deepwater port in Banana put on hold.