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    Monday, January 22, 2024

    DRC: Corneille Nangaa, Revolutionary Courage for Development?

    D. Kumbungu

    Known for his first-class electoral expertise on the African continent having trained both election administrators and sectoral technical experts, Corneille Nangaa managed the most mysterious electoral cycle in Congolese democracy.

    His political radicalization and his determination to draw on all available means to oust Félix Tshisekedi from power in Kinshasa seem to have found a rather favorable echo in Congolese opinion. Neither civil society organizations nor religious institutions have openly condemned the new war enterprise of Corneille Nangaa, the president of the Congo River Alliance (Alliance Fleuve Congo - AFC), a mega politico-military platform which so far has managed to unify around ten armed groups and several political parties.

    In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, public opinion shows clear signs of exhaustion towards the Tshisekedi regime. The five year long management of the second largest country in Africa by the son of the historic opponent of the Mobutu regime (Etienne Tshisekedi) unfortunately has not managed to convince the Congolese people.

    The accumulation of acts of embezzlement of public funds and poor political casting judgment have negatively tainted local leaders who fail to provide exemplary management of institutions, toughening of security and police services which are now distinguished by acts of violation of human rights and above all, the establishment of a judicial and electoral system under the orders of President Tshisekedi. Nangaa has publicly lashed out against unfulfilled promises, lies and non-compliance with commitments made by the head of state. He has not hesitated to reproach Tshisekedi for this dangerous tendency to humiliate his collaborators, including the Special Advisor on Security, François Beya; the former leader of the presidential party Jean-Marc Kabund A Kabund or yet again, his private assistant Fortunat Biselele. 

    All three taken in for questioning and subsequently arrested without trial. Facts to which are added political leadership of the presidential family vis-à-vis citizens and a certain superiority complex of individuals emanating from the Head of State’s province of origin over other ethnical communities in the country. The African Commission for the Supervision of Elections (la Comission Africaine pour la Supervision des Élections - CASE), an organization very critical of the Tshisekedi regime, seized the American Senate on Christmas Day, claiming to fear that “the proclamation of the electoral results fabricated by Tshisekedi's power would be adding fuel to the fire by igniting popular anger”. 

    The CASE has called on the United States government to conduct serious investigations into the Congolese electoral process as well as the proven non-election of Félix Tshisekedi and “to consider sanctions against the Congolese president, his biological family, his government and their accomplices, for planned electoral fraud, repression of opponents, political assassinations (in the case of Chérubin Okende), economic crimes and tribal discrimination,” as stressed by CASE président Simaro Ngongo.

    Nangaa, the revolutionary

    Known for his first-class electoral expertise on the African continent having trained both election administrators and sectoral technical experts, Corneille Nangaa managed the most mysterious electoral cycle in Congolese democracy. The first political alternation materialized in 2019 contains political secrets of which Nangaa is one of the architects. He regularly asserts that this transfer of power was materialized through a political agreement between the incoming and outgoing presidents. Nangaa promises to release a book detailing behind the scenes negotiations between the two personalities, Félix Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila.

    Installing a civilian president in the chair occupied during 18 years by a major general was not a routine task. Nangaa had a strangely enigmatic role which placed him in the spotlight of the authorities, the powers and the Constitution. The most indecipherable political, security and diplomatic arbitrations. It took wisdom, courage and personality to contain an unprecedented parade. It is this man-arbiter of the Kabila-Tshisekedi handover and recovery who today expresses his revolt by the mistakes made by the president invested in 2019. For Nangaa, Congolese democracy has ebbed and he therefore feels ethically obliged to reinstate new political balance to his nation. 

    This balance inexorably involves regime change, implying the overthrow of Félix Tshisekedi at all costs. His personal qualities leave him no other choice. A peerless manager, he is invested with courage and outspokenness that does not always enchant his critics. Rigorous and unshakeable in his convictions, Nangaa proved intransigent towards Western powers during the proclamation of the 2019 electoral results. This led him to suffer the consequences of heavy American sanctions, the lifting of which are still in negotiations till to today.

    His contacts with armed groups

    As head of the Congolese Independent Electoral Commission for 7 years, having successively coordinated all its operational technical structures for ten years under the supervision of the DRC’s very first election manager - Abbé Apollinaire Malumalu, Corneille Nangaa was at the heart of the Congolese democratic system, bringing together entities and personalities from across the board. His interlocutors were not only comprised of menbers of political parties, but also actors from Civil Society, traditional and religious leaders as well as the most disadvantaged social categories. The management of elections implying mastery of the country's geopolitical issues, Nangaa was vigorously working to negotiate equilibrium between people and communities in security-troubled areas such as greater Kivu, greater Orientale and greater Katanga provinces. He therefore rubbed shoulders with community leaders and armed groups.

    Forced to go into exile in April 2023 following political disputes, he was immediately appreciated for his sharp opinions against President Félix Tshisekedi. Nangaa had shown himself hostile to the inconsistencies in government management and the disarticulation of the army. His direct criticism got him into a lot of trouble. Summoned seven times by the prosecutor's office, he had his law-imposed personal guard of 15 men withdrawn, without justification. Once in exile, he attracted solidarity and fanaticism among opponents, including leaders of politico-military movements. His journey and his determination very quickly earned him multifaceted support which, in term, made him the reference leader of the Congo River Alliance (Alliance Fleuve Congo - AFC).

    A farming entrepreneur with a detailed vision

    Born on July 9, 1970, Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo comes from a royal Budu family from Haut-Uélé. As such, he enjoyed indisputable social roots, having vast expanses of land and certified personal property. He launched the Abema de Gombari Farm “FERAGOM” in Gombari, Watsa territory, as the first agricultural plantation that produced several varieties of vegetables and legumes (corn, tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, watermelon and others) in industrial quantities.

    This resulted in a vast agricultural project of modern rice cultivation and other cereals on an agrarian farm of more than 23,000 hectares. In his pharaonic vision for peace, stability, dignity and development of the DRC, Corneille Nangaa intends to promote the population's access to credit by easing the related conditions. In this ideal and as a development agent, he strongly encourages incentive-based legislation for local and foreign investments. Explicitly, Nangaa wants to democratize food, health care and quality education. His vision of development, which he constantly submits to the appreciation of his partners, occupies a special place in the founding of the AFC.

    Kagame, EAC and the M23

    The international civil servant in electoral governance keeps repeatedly states that he has never been “hypocritical” in trying to hide his convictions and his networks. Corneille Nangaa stands alongside the M23 and Twiraneho rebellions in particular, two political-military movements known to be close to Rwanda and which are defending themselves in the two provinces of Kivu, among other things, for the survival of their communities. During the launch of his platform in Nairobi on December 15, 2023, Corneille Nangaa clearly justified his alliance with the armed groups: “I can tell you that the rebel movements which are proliferating in Congo today are a creation of Mr. Tshisekedi himself. He has a signed agreement with most of these armed groups, including the M23. He does not keep his word. He haphazardly signs agreements which he doesn’t comply with.

    This is one of the reasons that justify the frustration which is the root cause of the creation of armed groups,” he explained. For Nangaa, Félix Tshisekedi uses Rwanda as a propaganda subject without revisiting his commitments to this country that he himself invited to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The same diplomatic infirmities apply to his agreement with the East African Community (EAC) and MONUSCO whose troops were respectively sent back to their respective countries and ordered to pack up.

    By D. Kumbungu, Freelancer at Diaspora News Magazine

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