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Anti-government protestors burn tires as they protest a new law that could delay the scheduled election to be held in 2016, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 20, 2015 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

From Bullets to Ballots: The Next Battle for Congo’s Future

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015

Flying into Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the early days of 2015, foreign diplomats could be excused for being disoriented. The news in the international press was focused on an impending offensive against Rwandan rebels in the east of the country, an area to which the United Nations peacekeeping mission––the largest in the world––had just relocated most of its troops and staff.

And yet, in the embassies and upscale restaurants of the capital, the buzz was all about political wrangling among elites ahead of elections still two years away. The populist governor of mining-rich Katanga had just given a fiery speech challenging President Joseph Kabila, who appears to be trying to illegally extend his presidential mandate. Several weeks later, police broke up widespread protests in Kinshasa with live bullets and tear gas as the population protested a controversial electoral law. The war in the distant and mountainous east seemed a faint murmur. ...

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