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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Yearbook 2015

Congo. According to COUNTRYAAH, President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his father when he was assassinated in 2001 and won the 2006 and 2011 elections, continued his efforts to extend his time in power through changes in the electoral law. The constitution does not allow him to stand in the elections that were actually intended to be held in 2016. In January, the National Assembly voted for a change in the law that would require a census before the next presidential and parliamentary elections can be held. The opposition boycotted the vote, and protests erupted in the capital Kinshasa. About 40 people were killed in clashes between protesters on the one hand and police and the presidential guard on the other. Protests also took place in cities in the troubled eastern part of the country. The Senate approved the new electoral law but without the requirement of a census.

2015 Democratic Republic of the Congo

In February it was reported that at least 300 of the protesters arrested in January were still being held. In the same month, the country's Election Commission announced that elections for the presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in November 2016. Local elections were announced until October 2015, and regional elections would be held in between. In September, the Supreme Court ruled that the Electoral Commission must work on the planning of elections, as it considered that there was a risk that the financial means for holding all elections would not suffice.

In September, government representatives and representatives of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the largest opposition party, met in Europe. However, the negotiations on the disagreements over the future elections led no one and Etienne Tshisékédi, the UDPS leader, announced that his party had left the deliberations. Earlier in the year, in May, internal disputes arose within the UDPS when Tshisékédi traveled abroad to receive care and his son, Felix Tshisékédi, replaced as party leader. Tshisékédi the younger then held talks with President Kabila. He was accused of meeting Kabila in exchange for a ministerial post, but denied this.

Opposition to Kabila's plans also came from within the Alliance of Presidential Majority (AMP), the partial alliance where the president's party, the Party for Reconciliation and Development (PPRD), is the largest. In an open letter addressed to Kabila and signed by several alliance politicians, the president's attempts to make it possible to stand for another term in office were criticized. The G7 party group, to which the protesting politicians belong, was subsequently excluded from the government coalition. The letter was written in September, and later that same month a major government reform was carried out. A few days later, Moďse Katumbi resigned as governor of the large and mineral-rich province of Katanga. At the same time, he left the PPRD, for which he was party leader until December 2014. Katumbi criticized Kabila's and the PPRD's attempts to change the constitution in the president's favor and postpone elections in the future.

In February, the UN made the decision not to participate in a new offensive against the hutumilis Democratic forces for Rwanda's liberation (FDLR) launched by the government in January. The reason is stated to be that the government has included two generals accused of crimes against humanity in the forces. Congo, for its part, requested that the UN reduce the number of soldiers in the country, but this was rejected by the UN Security Council in March.

In September, two former FDLR commanders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences by a court in Germany. Both were convicted of leading a terrorist organization and the former for war crimes committed against the civilian population of eastern Congo. Murwanashyaka was sentenced to 13 years in prison while Musoni was sentenced to eight years in prison. Since Musoni had already been detained at the same time, he was released.

In November, the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that Germaine "Simba" Katanga, who in March 2014 was sentenced to twelve years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Ituri region of northeastern Congo, would have his sentence reduced. In September 2015, Katanga had been detained for eight years, that is, two-thirds of the imprisoned sentence. The ICC decided that he would be released in January 2016. In December Ladislas Ntaganzwa was arrested in Congo (Kinshasa). He is a Rwandan citizen and is accused of organizing a massacre of 20,000 civilian Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In June, Congo and 26 other African countries agreed on a new free trade agreement, the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). The agreement was signed in Egypt and includes countries from Egypt in the north to South Africa in the south. For the agreement to enter into force, it must, among other things, be ratified by the national parliaments.

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