Note: This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill and was written by Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, and Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
On Dec. 30, the Democratic Republic of Congo voted in only its third presidential election in history — and the first in which an incumbent president, Joseph Kabila, had promised to step down before the vote took place.
The poll was far from a free and fair election. The clear frontrunner according to independent polls, Martin Fayulu, was declared to have lost the race.
Subsequently, Felix Tshisekedi, the son of Congo’s most famous dissident for most of the nation’s 59 years of independence, was inaugurated on Jan. 24 after the Congolese Constitutional Court certified the official, but almost certainly fraudulent, vote tallies.
At one level, the election was an insult to democracy and a deep injustice to the Congolese people. Yet at another level, what just happened is a better outcome than most observers predicted.
Congo has now achieved the first peaceful transfer of power in its history — and to a new president who was not his predecessor’s first choice (President Kabila had favored a third candidate, Emmanuel Shadary)…
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