Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The DRC, a nation host to far more mineral resources that its present operations come anywhere near to exploiting, is going through a critical time. The risk, physical and reputational, faced by companies considering operating there is very high, and this means communities which could benefit enormously from transparent extractive operations remain amongst the poorest on earth.
President Joseph Kabila there has reached the end of his second term, and according to the constitution he should have stepped down in December since any one person is allowed only two terms in office. Although he was first elected in a fairly well-run election in 2006 (he had been unelected president for 5 years by then, preceded by his father who was killed after 3 years in the job), his second election in 2011 was marred by allegations of cheating.
In the last couple of years, he sought to alter the constitution to allow him a third term. Unlike some other African leaders, however, he failed twice to get this measure though parliament. He has now agreed to organise elections over the next 18 months or so and it seems that if he does not succeed in altering the constitution over that time, then he will step down. In the meantime, he has appointed opposition figure Samy Badabinga as prime minister.
Our EICS colleagues in the DRC tell us that while the situation is still complex and difficult, the appointment of Mr Badibanga is a welcome one which might just end up with a legitimately-elected president in less than 18 months time. If that’s so, then it’s very much to be welcomed because this may well be a precursor to the kind of stability which would enable the communities and people of the DRC to benefit properly from the riches which lie beneath their soil.