Since independence in 1960, only two democratically elected heads of state have governed in Congo. As leading Congolese political scientist Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja points out, both Patrice Lumumba in 1960 and Etienne Tshisekedi in 1992 held office for only a brief time before a military coup led by Mobutu.
While the massive undertaking of holding an election in Congo would be a challenge for any government, one key procedural issue has been settled. On the urging of the Kabila administration, the Assembly has ruled that there will not be a second run off election if no candidate for President is backed by a majority of the voters. Should the opposition remain divided, and there a few dozen political parties running candidates for the Assembly, the reelection of President Kabila would be virtually assured.
It would be a major achievement for Congo to complete the electoral process without an upsurge of violence in the East and elsewhere in the country. It would be an even greater achievement, deserving of our most fervent prayers, for Congo to experience a free and fair election resulting in a change in administration.