The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is attempting to crawl out of the decades of chaos that had previously characterized the large African nation and continues to do so. The Kabila government in Kinshasa has scheduled democratic elections in the coming weeks, something the Congolese haven't seen in 40 years. This coming election is a pivotal event for the DRC. If it will actually help the country is anybody's guess.
The situation in the DRC came to my attention recently when I read in the Orlando Sentinel that two local central Florida men had been detained and accused of a coup attempt against the Kabila government. As I like to do, I look up names and places in some news articles in order to gain a better understanding of the story. The local angle seemed intriquing enough. These men did work for an Orlando consultancy firm subcontracted into the often very shady world of private military contractors (PMC).
Retired Orlando police captain, Joe Robinson and retired U.S. Secret Service Agent, Kevin Billings, were being held in the DRC because of their work for AQMI Strategy Corp. Following all the subcontractor corporations currently involved in the DRC providing private security with names like Nexia Strategy, Omega International and Tactical Intelligence LLC, led me to wonder about all the PMCs from South Africa, Nigeria and the U.S. running around the DRC.
As it turns out, AQMI is owned by Frank Amodeo, who sits on the board of Nexia Strategy, Nexia received $5 million in venture capital from multinational conglomerate Mirabilis Ventures, and Mirabilis seems to have had a relationship with the presidential candidate that AQMI was working with, Dr. Oscar Kashala. Dr. Oscar Kashala is actually a dual citizen of the U.S. and the DRC. He had been residing in Virginia until he decided to become a candidate in the DRC presidential election.
I can only describe the history of political leadership in the DRC to that of Star Trek's Klingon Empire. More often than not, the leader is assassinated and replaced. Rinse and repeat. Here's some reference reading for you:
You'll have to read those one page references to understand what I say now. The history of the DRC depends upon your perspective. I don't mean to seem simplistic, but the 'official' history written by the Kabila government is very telling and might explain the paranoia of the government of young Joseph Kabila. His father, Laurent Desire Kabila, was killed by a personal bodyguard in 2001, after all.
Because of all the pre-election turmoil, the actual day of free elections in the DRC is a little hard to nail down. The CIA has June 18th as the date. Sadly, that's not current. I've seen June 30th and July 30th in various news articles.
Just for you, I went so far as to call the DRC Permanent Mission to the United Nations office to get the correct elections date, because I have Skype, and it's basically a free phone call. However, I had to leave my inquiry on some answering machine. That seemed a little lame to me for an entire country's U.N. office in this day and age, but their web site is also stuck in a wayback machine, too.
The Democratic Republic of Congo will be in your news this Summer. If the country survives and doesn't descend into further chaos -- it might be a good news story -- no matter who is elected as the next president. There is alot more to the DRC story and I'll post that in the next entry.