Source: Institute for Security Studies (South Africa)
The proposed Congolité law could inflame violence in a country devastated by more than two decades of conflict.
by David Zounmenou
Early in July, Noel Tshiani, a 2018 presidential candidate with the support of some Members of Parliament, proposed amending the legislation governing who is eligible to hold high office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Tshiani suggests that candidates for presidential elections or leaders of state institutions such as the National Assembly and the Senate should be DRC citizens born of Congolese parents.
Over the past few weeks, the debate around the issue has polarised the country again. Supporters of the proposed law argue that it seeks to protect the presidency and limit access to power by alleged foreigners or Congolese with dual citizenship. They say it will protect the DRC’s sovereignty and limit the risk that bi-nationals might not remain loyal to the country’s interests.
Those who oppose the amendment say that it violates the constitution, which warns against any discriminatory policy. It is also divisive and exclusionary and could ignite conflict and damage national cohesion. For them, the proposed law is an opportunistic move to mobilise support and revive the political ambitions of its promoters.