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Catalina Lobo-Guerrero is a freelance journalist and anthropologist currently living in Barcelona, Spain. For the past decade she has been working as an investigative journalist and correspondent in Bogotá, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela where has written about politics, corruption, the armed conflict and violence. Her work has been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, El País and other smaller and independent media outlets in Latin America.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was supposed to have presidential elections last Sunday, but violence erupted in the days prior and the elections have been postponed. Again. Who is to blame? Security forces that have mostly overreacted at opposition demonstrations demanding free and fair elections. The Congolese people have been hoping for a chance to go the polls and vote for a new president because the current one, Joseph Kabilla, has been in power for 17 years.
The idea of having a different type of leader run one of the most violent and poor countries in Africa is slim, though, as the Financial Time's Africa editor, David Pilling, explains in this podcast. The opposition is weak and split over the candidate that would best represent them. The most likely winner of these elections, that might not even be fair if they actually take place on December 30th, is Kabilla's former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Shadary. He is infamously known for ordering the brutal crackdown of protests in 2017, when people took to the streets demanding that elections take place. Many were murdered and Shadary was sanctioned by the EU.
It seems the only hope for Congolese people is that this man, despite his poor track record and being currently perceived as Kabilla's proxy, will turn against Kabilla once he is in power. The country is rich in mineral resources but has been continuously exploited and abused by its rulers in alliance with private companies. Will Shadary finally be the man that invests in the future and wellbeing of its people?