Since her independence on 30 June 1960 from Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the den of political instability and personal aggrandizement, which has manifested into lawlessness, impunity and senseless loss of millions of innocent lives. The latest report from the UN human rights investigators, which alleged that more than 250 people, including 62 children, were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo from mid-March to mid-June, adds to the statistics and confirms the seriousness of the country’s political fragility. More than that, it has left many to question whether it is not the time for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to quickly take a closer look at the political turmoil in the Democratic Republic of Congo and hold the culprits of the genocides and crimes against humanity fully responsible for their nefarious acts.
According to the newly released report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), many cases of murder, rape, mutilation and arbitrary arrest have resulted in more than 250 deaths between March and June, mainly in the Kasai region of the country. The violence has created a humanitarian catastrophe and a nightmare for innocent civilians, while many of the powerful leaders and orchestrators of the violence, many believe, are walking on the street untouched.
Why would this be the case? Why would this beautiful and incredibly rich country – one of the richest in the world, in terms of abundant natural mineral resources – be allowed to be turned into an anarchy by the inglorious greed of few political and business interests, within and outside the country? Why would innocent citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo bear the blunt consequences of these greedy economic scavengers, while the rest of the world seems to look the other way?
Sources, including the Catholic church, believe that more than 3,300 people have lost their lives ever since the Kasai tribal leader Kamwina Nsapu, who had defied the government of President Joseph Kabila was killed in a military operation last year. The Kasai region largely supported the opposition of President Kabila in the last presidential election. After his return from a conviction in a diamond trafficking case, Mpandi was designated to succeed his uncle as the head of the Bajila Kasanja clan. However, after the election, the Kabila government appointed government cronies rather than tribal chiefs into powerful positions in the local government. The appointments did not go well with many in the Kasai region, who do not support the Kabila government. While some have argued that the central government of President Kabila has the authority to appoint local government leaders, others have blamed the Joseph Kabila’s government for the violence in the Kasai region, and accused President Kabila and his cronies of creating instabilities in the region as an excuse to postpone the upcoming elections, which would require him to step down as President. Constitutionally, President Kabila is to step down, in view that he has officially ended his term of office. However, recent calls on President Kabila by many, including the UNO, to step down has yielded no results. Importantly, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission Corneille Nangaa has recently cast doubt on the possibility of the vote to replace President Joseph Kabila to take place in 2017. Mr. Corneille Nangaa’s doubt coupled with the violence in the Kasai region have made many to accuse President of using the violence as an excuse to prolong his political stay.
With about 80 mass graves discovered so far in the once-calm Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, is this time for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to step in and hold the perpetrators of the heinous crimes against innocent citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo fully responsible for their lawlessness and criminal acts?