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Biya Sides with Kabila in DRC Post-Election Crisis 

By Ze Ekanga
 
While thousands of Congolese citizens are still contesting the election of Joseph Kabila Kabange for another 5-year term in office, Paul Biya of Cameroon, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, has issued a message of support to the beleaguered president. The Cameroon leader issued a congratulatory telegram to Joseph Kabila a day after the latter was sworn-in for another term in Kinshasa.

At a time when many African Heads of State are reluctant to comment on the state of affairs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Paul Biya has opted for an outright stand behind one of the candidates. Pushing beyond the necessary choice of words characteristic of such diplomatic telegrams, Biya astoundingly described Kabila’s narrow win over rival Etienne Tshisekedi as “brilliant”, promising his full support to the leadership of the country.

President Paul Biya’s unprecedented decision to choose a side early in the post-electoral crisis in the DRC is a complete departure from his lukewarm diplomatic posture to similar crises which occurred before his own controversial election in heavily flawed polls in October this year.

While a violent post-election conflict raged in Cote d’Ivoire in the early half of 2011, Biya strenuously avoided addressing congratulatory messages to any of the rivals. Although then incumbent Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire was proclaimed winner by the Constitutional Council and took the oath of office in like manner as Kabila of DRC, President Biya did not utter a word.

The best lesson the ageing Cameroon leader learned from the Cote d’Ivoire experience was to modify the law organizing the elections organizing body in Cameroon, ELECAM, scraping the publication of provisional results by the organ in a bid to avert any conflicting results in elections he badly wanted to win.

Before 2011, a similar scenario occurred in Guinea but President Biya kept sealed lips. Analysts have been quick to describe such a show of double standards in diplomacy as evidence of a President who is eager to hold onto his power and can only make friends with others who share the same passion.

“You don’t live in a glass house and take to throwing stones,” a leading political commentator said in reaction to President Biya’s act. “Foreign support is a crucial component these days in power consolidation in Africa. Biya is beginning to create allies who will help him keep his power for the next seven years.”
 

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