KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo risks falling into anarchy if a move toward authoritarian rule developing under President Joseph Kabila continues, a conflict watchdog said on Thursday.
A report from International Crisis Group (ICG) said an “authoritarian trend” has seen the president’s office concentrate power, undermine the judiciary and fail to implement plans to decentralize, in an “abysmal” record since 2006.
“The risk is that Congo is going to become ungovernable and chunks of the country will turn into anarchy,” said Guillaume Lacaille, senior analyst at ICG.
Elections in 2006, won by Kabila, promised a new era for Congo after years of corruption and the 32-year dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, which was followed by a 1998-2003 war in which millions died.
But analysts said instability may instead grow in the nation, which is now seeking foreign investment to develop its oil reserves. Fighting continues in the east and across the north, and Congo ranks among the worst countries in the world to do business despite its vast minerals deposits, according to the World Bank.
The report, “Congo: A Stalled Democracy,” said civil liberties are regularly threatened and no significant progress has been made to reform the security sector.
“It’s going more and more to a pattern that developed during the Mobutu era,” said Lacaille of Mobutu’s corrupt regime that strangled the economy until he was deposed in a 1997 coup.
Lacaille said elections scheduled for 2011, along with widespread local tensions that threatened to take on national significance, may destabilize the situation further.
“By locating all power at the center, you leave people with no solution but force,” said Lacaille.
In the most recent flare up in Congo violence, rebels briefly took control last week of the main airport in Equateur Province, killing several soldiers and a U.N. peacekeeper.
editing by Richard Valdmanis/David Stamp