The disputed elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Africa’s biggest country, remind of Mark Twain’s famous saying: “If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” That the outcome has been heavily contested is unsurprising. The country, which won independence in 1960 after a brutal colonisation by Belgium, has never seen a peaceful, democratic transition of power. Joseph Kabila, the incumbent president, has been in power since his father and predecessor, Laurent, was assassinated in 2001. His attempts to cling to power after his term ended at the end of 2016 were arguably only thwarted by international and local opposition pressure, which met sometimes deadly resistance from Kabila’s regime. The vote, held on December 30 after another last-minute postponement, finally brought a provisional “winner”: an opposition candidate, Felix Tshisekedi, who is widely believed to have been elevated after a backroom deal with Kabila. The current president’s chosen su...

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