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Published 30th November 2012

Vol 53 No 24


Congo-Kinshasa

Kabila looks into the abyss

President Joseph Kabila on a visit to Goma in 2009. Teun Voeten / Panos
President Joseph Kabila on a visit to Goma in 2009. Teun Voeten / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

After the eastern rebels trounce the national army and opposition movements step up the pressure, the President is fighting for his political life

The seizure of Goma by the Mouvement du 23 mars rebels on 20 November has dangerously weakened the regime of President Joseph Kabila Kabange. Backed by Rwanda and Uganda, M23’s brutal campaign in eastern Congo threatens Kinshasa both by exposing the government’s inability to protect the public and by forming opportunistic alliances with other oppositionists. On 28 November, at least some M23 commanders were responding to international pressure to withdraw from Goma but they were tying this to negotiating conditions. Some commanders said they were prepared to pull their troops back to 30 kilometres outside Goma but continued to maintain a threatening posture. There are also credible reports that M23 forces have stolen over US$50 million from the city’s branch of the Banque centrale du Congo.


Why Goma fell

The full details of Goma’s fall are still murky but the main military push started on 19 November when, say local people, fighters from the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) began to cros...


Clouds over Koroma’s victory

Claims of electoral fraud and threats of militant protest by the opposition shadow the start of the President’s second term

President Ernest Bai Koroma avoided a potentially contentious second-round in the presidential poll by defeating Julius Maada Bio outright on 17 November. It was announced on 23 No...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Around 100,000 demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 27 November demanded that President Mursi withdraw the decree that granted him sweeping powers, marking a rare moment of unity for Egypt’s liberals and leftists. Many called for Mursi not just to rescind his ‘constitutional declaration’ – but to step down. Protestors attacked the party offices of his Muslim Brothers in Alexandria and Mansoura and police officers declined to intervene. Hundr...

Around 100,000 demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 27 November demanded that President Mursi withdraw the decree that granted him sweeping powers, marking a rare moment of unity for Egypt’s liberals and leftists. Many called for Mursi not just to rescind his ‘constitutional declaration’ – but to step down. Protestors attacked the party offices of his Muslim Brothers in Alexandria and Mansoura and police officers declined to intervene. Hundreds of people were injured in clashes between Brotherhood supporters and opponents in Mahalla and Port Said.

Secular leaders such as Mohamed el Baradei, ex-head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Amr Moussa, ex-Secretary General of the Arab League, lambast Mursi’s government for its narrow Islamist agenda. The Muslim Brothers promised a show of force in Cairo on 1 December.

This confrontation marks a critical point for Egypt’s and the region’s post-revolutionary regimes. At the core of the protests is the attempt by Mursi and the Brothers to write a new constitution without reference to any other viewpoints. Most non-Islamist representatives resigned from the Assembly and joined legal moves to dissolve it. Yet Mursi’s decree effectively blocks the courts from doing that. Now his supporters in the Assembly plan to release their draft constitution which Mursi could put to a referendum within weeks. With control of the state machinery, he could push through what is likely to be a strongly Islamist if deftly worded constitution.

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