Mountainous hurdles face the Democratic Republic of Congo as it prepares for elections, just four months away, that will shape the future of one of the world’s powder-keg countries. Organising elections among some 40 million voters in a troubled, impoverished state nearly five times the size of France is a huge challenge. But, prickly about intrusion, the DRC is rejecting offers of advice, oversight and election funding from abroad. On Monday, it was regional neighbour South Africa’s turn to be spurned. The authorities rejected the appointment of South African former president Thabo Mbeki as “special envoy” to the December 23 ballot, a role announced in the press but not officially confirmed by Pretoria.
“I can tell you that there will be no special envoys to the DRC, even if they are Thabo Mbeki” — the host of peace negotiations that ended the Second Congo War in 2003 — President Joseph Kabila’s diplomatic advisor, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, told AFP.
Observers “tend to behave like proconsuls. They don’t respect the DRC’s autonomy. We want to mark our sovereignty,” added Communications Minister Lambert Mende.