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Congo's G7 Opposition Destabilization Effort Again Ends in Failure

By Robert Reiss

For months, Congo’s opposition coalition (the "G7") has been claiming widespread dissatisfaction among the Congolese people regarding the recently announced election calendar for the next national elections. They staked their authority on a planned “Day of Protests” across the DRC on December 19th, an effort that ended in total collapse. As the Daily Mail reported in an article titled “Day of protest flops but DR Congo opposition to fight on,” ( “Rallies were held in several cities but were attended by only a few dozen people.” Given weeks of publicity and media, it’s clear that this opposition coalition has failed to make its case to citizens.

Indeed, G7 Co-leader Felix Tshisekedi all but acknowledged his organization’s failure, blaming the lack of interest in a heavily promoted national event on a “lack of coordination.” The G7’s inability to mount even a simple rally caused critics to once again wonder how this fractious and unstable coalition of political parties, bound together only be a desire to take over the government, could ever manage such an undertaking. And DRC citizens seem uninterested.

Since its formation as an opposition coalition to the presidency of Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the rhetoric of the so-called “G7 Raissemblement” has often been intemperate and designed to incite anger at the expense of civil society. For example, consider an August 14, 2016 story in Congo newspaper L’Avenir: “The G7 chose its strategy: to incite, finance and mediate political intolerance to flare up the country. To get there as quickly as possible, the G7 men addressed extremist words to the Congolese people without submitting themselves to the obligation of sincerity. While all parts of the country, including an increasingly growing section of the opposition and international public opinion, loudly expressed their support for the inclusive National Policy Dialogue convened by the Head of State and supported by the United Nations (UN) on the basis of Resolution 2277, the G7 persists in its cowardly anti-dialogue.” (L'Avenir {translated from French)

The G7 is composed of seven political parties, all with different perspectives, that have unified behind co-leaders Felix Tshisekedi and Pierre Lumbi to sow dissent in the DRC, incite protests, and overthrow the current government. Tshisekedi is a political novice, nominated for his leadership role by his family name. His father, Etienne Tshisekedi, was a longtime dissident leader who died last year. The late elder Tshisekedi was often seen as the only man with enough power to hold the fragile coalition of opposition parties together. Recent events may be validating that view.

Foreign Policy Magazine endorsed this idea, writing in 2017: “(The G7 Leadership role for Tshisekedi) puts a lot of responsibility in startlingly inexperienced hands. At 53, the younger Tshisekedi has spent most of his life in Belgium. He has never held public office (though he was elected to parliament in 2011 and boycotted his seat at the direction of his father) and only moved into a leadership role in the UDPS as its national secretary for external relations in 2008. For most of his professional life, he toiled in relative obscurity within the party’s European diaspora organizations.” Even his fellow G7 leaders doubt him, “Where else in the world would someone be put in charge of such an important process… who has only been in the opposition for seven months,” coalition member Joseph Olenga Nkoy told BBC Afrique.

The younger Tshisekedi’s G7 leadership partner, Pierre Lumbi, has a checked past.  It includes charges of corruption directed against Lumbi and the projects he managed while inside the DRC government as Minister of State for Infrastructure, Public Works and Reconstruction. A commission set up by the DRC National Assembly found that over US$23 million in signature bonuses had gone missing, apparently siphoned off by local government officials and officers of the state-owned Gecamnines. Pierre Lumbi refused the commission's request for an interview, and was replaced in 2010. Now he co-heads the entire “Raissemblement” with political neophyte Tshisekedi.

The G7 confederation of parties is loosely assembled and fractious, often split by internal arguments that render it impotent. In fact, when (then) UDPS deputy secretary-general Bruno Tshibala objected to the appointment of Tshisekedi and Lumbi as co-presidents, he was summarily dismissed from the G7. At least three other party members have expressed similar opposition to their elevation to leadership roles.

Given the near universal support from around the world for Congo election commission’s (CENI) roadmap to the next national ballot on December 23, 2018, it’s disappointing but perhaps not surprising that this loose assemblage of confederate dissidents would put their own quest for power and wealth above the needs of Congo’s 82 million citizens. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is moving towards free, fair and open elections, overseen by the independent and widely respected CENI organization, with a detailed and complete timetable leading to a national election on December 23, 2018. This process has been reviewed and validated worldwide, including by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. President Kabila and the DRC government has endorsed the work of CENI and their decisions.

Yet the G7 opposition, led by exiled dissidents and self-dealing opportunists persists in undermining this lawful process with their demand that the government be abandoned by the current administration, and the DRC left in a leadership void that they would fill as they choose, without an election process, and without the will of the Congolese people. Worse yet, while the G7 is clear in opposing the rule of law in the Congo, they have put forth no affirmative plan for the DRC.

The people of the Democratic Republic deserve better than violence, suffering and chaos. Yet that is all the G7 offers. Widely rejected abroad, it is well past time for this dissident and fractious opposition to join with the government in a free, fair and open election process for the good of the Congolese people.