The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday sentenced DRC’s former vice president, Jean Pierre Bemba to a 300,000 Euro fine and a 12-month sentence for witness tampering. Bemba’s sentence was however reduced to zero due to time served. He was acquitted of war crimes on appeal in June but had already been convicted on the lesser charge of witness tampering during his trial. While awaiting the outcome of the witness tampering charge brought in November 2013, Bemba returned to the DRC and applied to contest in the presidential elections set in December 2018. His application was, however, rejected by the country’s electoral commission because of the ICC conviction.
A total of 21 candidates have been approved for the single-round contest that is set to take place on the December 23, 2018. Among them were several other prominent Kabila critics such as Felix Tshisekedi, Vital Kamerhe, Martin Fayulu, and Freddy Matungulu. Other leading opposition figures, including former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and ex-provincial governor Moise Katumbi, were excluded from the list. The best decision would be for the opposition to have one major candidate that it will back, in order to increase its chances of ousting the ruling party however, it is not yet clear if the opposition will rally behind this idea.
Congolese president Joseph Kabila announced that the government was planning to create a “special economic zone”. The objective is to add value to the country’s vast mineral resources and to persuade electric car batteries manufacturers and smartphones to set up shop in the country. DRC lacks even the most basic infrastructure to set up a SEZ. The political instability that has dogged the country for ages is discouraging investments. It is uncertain whether investors would want to go move in to eastern DRC, a region marked by violence, looting and killings.
A journalist who was kidnapped three days ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east has been found in a very weak state. Hassan Murhabazi surfaced on Thursday evening in the city of Bukavu, a statement from his employer, Radio Svein, said. Kidnappings are common in the turbulent South Kivu province. The previous day, he had received a text message asking him to ‘stop talking about the presidential candidate of the (government) Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary’, RSF said. Murhabazi had aired a programme on the upcoming election contender on Sunday.
A team of Chinese engineering and medical troops left for a one-year peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are the first group of the 22nd batch of peacekeepers that China has dispatched to the central African nation. The rest of the 218-member batch will leave on September 28, 2018. It’s after their arrival in specific mission areas that the engineering will be charged with duties such as maintaining roads, bridges, and airports, while the medical team will focus on treating the wounded, epidemic prevention and humanitarian aid.
Research was conducted by KU Leuven and the University of Lubumbashi (2009) had found high concentrations of trace metals in the urine of people living close to mines. A new case study, published in Nature Sustainability, confirms the health risks of cobalt mining. The researchers conducted a case study in Kasulo, an urban neighborhood in Kolwezi, in the heart of the Congolese mining area. This shows that mining of cobalt in the DRC is not a good option especially in terms of the environment and as a health issue. However, to be able to gain access to potential wealth of the minerals, the best thing to do is to encourage sustainable cobalt mining, keeping an eye on health and environmental issues.