Note: This op-ed originally appeared in Fox News and was written by Enough Project Founding Director, John Prendergast and Associate Director for Policy Sasha Lezhnev.
At fifteen minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve, early fireworks went off in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These weren’t to celebrate another new year, but rather the signing of an agreement that, if implemented, paves the way for the country’s first ever peaceful, democratic transition of power.
Many months in the making, the deal was an important achievement. The agreement has many variables: President Joseph Kabila committed to not hold a referendum to change the constitution to allow him to run again; the opposition agreed to not hold up the deal because of the pending legal case of one of its main leaders, Moïse Katumbi; all agreed to hold elections in 2017; and the government agreed to drop charges against several, though not all, political prisoners.
Before looking forward to the difficult process of implementation, it’s important to look back for a moment to understand what allowed this deal to come together…