n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - The political role of the ethnic factor around elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


This paper analyses the role of the ethnic factor in political choices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and its impact on democratisation and the implementation of the practice of good governance. This is done by focusing especially on the presidential and legislative elections of 1960 and 2006.

The Congolese electorate is known for its ambiguous and paradoxical behaviour. At all times, ethnicity seems to play a determining role in the choice of leaders and so the politicians, entrusted with leadership, keep on exploiting the same ethnicity for money. Although the East-West rift is a reality which was particularly eminent during the elections of 2006, it is something that should be relativised. This divide is however not always linked to the ethnic factor. The analysis is more complex. At the legislative level, the voting pattern has always shown a contrast, particularly with the individual vote, the modification of ethnic allegiance, and the conflict of ethnic fidelity, as well as ethnic clientelism in its various forms. Individual interest often confronts and / or merges with the interest of the group, leading to a rather casual relationship.
Finally, political identification can be expressed in political, linguistic, economic or regional ways. The very subjective character of the vote has a negative impact on the political choices, and consequently on good governance, which then shows up, as often is the case, as incompetence and corruption. The study ends with some recommendations that may eventually contribute to voting for the sake of the advantages of democracy and the exigencies of good governance.

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