In retrospect, it is alarming how few repercussions there were for the extremely flawed Congolese elections of November 2011. Diplomats condemned the irregularities, sometimes vociferously, but soon inertia and donor discord set in, and they were reluctant to do much more. What could we do? Is the refrain I heard from several embassies in Kinshasa, pointing to the reluctance to use more heavy-handed tactics, such as aid suspension, and to funding a re-run of the costly elections. Eventually, they chose not to contest the elections but to try to use Kabila's perceived weakness to press for changes: the redesign of the electoral commission, the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda, and security sector reform.
By March 2012 donor attention was already beginning drift, and--in the face of repression--civil society and the political opposition had been unable to pressure the government through street protest. But it was perhaps the M23 mutiny in early April that book-ended the post-electoral crisis. On the one hand it signaled Kabila's readiness to carry out one donor demand, the arrest of Ntaganda (although this was only a small factor in the emergence of the M23), on the other it formed a distraction to the electoral crisis. The M23 had intended to strike Kabila when he was weak, and take advantage of the rampant opposition against him internationally and domestically--ironically, they accomplished the opposite, making him appear the victim and deviating donor attention.
Kabila formed a government, convened a raucous parliament in which he held a firm majority, and overcame opposition to hold the Francophonie summit in Kinshasa in October 2012. While he stumbled in two key governor elections-Province Orientale and Bas-Congo--and was forced to reform the electoral commission, the electoral crisis seemed to be behind him. (Read here why the proposed electoral reform, which gives the presidency ...[view whole blog post ]