Col. Rick Fawcett, serving with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Congo, says it’s unclear whether the worst of the post-election violence in the country has passed. Human Rights Watch has reported at least 24 deaths and opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who declared and inaugurated himself president, says he is effectively under house arrest. Incumbent Joseph Kabila was declared the winner by the Congolese Supreme Court and inaugurated last week; the U.S. State Department has expressed deep disappointment over this turn of events, as the irregularities from November’s election were never fully evaluated. Another contributing factor to doubts over the election is the fact that former rebels were promoted to senior posts in Congo’s military in return for supporting Kabila’s re-election effort.
In the capital city of Kinshasa, electricity was cut off and the food supply was disrupted. According to the New York Times,
[Congo] is last on the 2011 Global Hunger Index, a measure of malnutrition and child nutrition compiled by the International Food Policy Research Institute, and has gotten worse. It was the only country where the food situation dropped from “alarming” to “extremely alarming,” the institute reported this year. Half the country is considered undernourished.
Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said the United States was Congo’s largest donor with a commitment of over $900 million for peacekeeping, humanitarian and development initiatives in the past fiscal year. Many Congolese activists are now calling for some of this aid to be suspended until credible elections take place.