At the end of November 2020, the Republic of Congo held a government-sponsored conference to pave way for the presidential elections.
Dubbed the Madingou Political Concertation in La Bouenza, the conference allowed political actors and civil society to discuss issues related to the organization of the upcoming presidential polls. It was held from November 25 to 26 under the theme « Let us consolidate the gains of democracy through free, transparent and peaceful elections. »
More than a hundred political actors and members of civil society were present at these meetings. The leader of the presidential majority, Pierre Moussa, and Pascal Tsaty Mabiala of the opposition, took part in this consultation. Other leading figures of the opposition were Parfait Kolelas, Jean-Jacques Serge Yhombi-Opango, Claudine Munari, just to mention but a few.
Notably present was the fierce opponent of the regime, Paulin Makaya. He termed the dialogue as a deception and called on the authorities to respect the constitutional order.
« What is happening in Madingou is a red herring, it has nothing to do with the Congolese people…We say no, we do not want it. We are waiting for the real dialogue. », he said.
Nevertheless, at the end of the dialogue, the government expressed satisfaction and welcomed the participation of all national political components in this political meeting.
« After having taken note of these elements, the Council of Ministers welcomed the massive participation of the entire political class from the majority, the opposition and the center, as well as that of the civil society in this great moment of sharing and exchange. », noted government spokesman Thierry Moungalla.
However, the main civil society platforms have been sceptical about the progress from the conference.
Despite the optimism displayed by the leaders of the opposition political parties, their expectations were generally not met. « We did not agree on three essential elements that we believe are essential to the reliability of the electoral process: the mastery of the Electoral Code, the strengthening of the CNEI [National Independent Electoral Commission] and the capping of campaign expenses. », regretted the leader of the Congolese opposition, Mabiala.
Furthermore, opposition candidate Mathias Dzon who had sent a representative on his behalf noted that concrete proposals for rebuilding electoral governance were overlooked and that the government was determined to maintain « the mafia electoral system » in place since 2002.
According to Collective of Congolese Opposition Parties, on the string of topics selected, nine in total, only two points were the subject of consensus, namely « the single ballot for all candidates, and the assumption by the state of responsibility for the training of electoral agents and representatives of the candidates. ».
Nevertheless, all groups of opposition present did not regret having participated in the conference.
Since 2011, Congo has been holding political consultations ahead of every election. The first was held in Ewo, then in Dolisie in 2013, Sibiti in 2015, Ouesso in 2017 and recently in Madingou. However, the Catholic church has voiced concerns stating the recent Concertation has replaced the National Council for Dialogue. « We continue to believe that the broadest possible political dialogue is the most appropriate way to rebuild our Nation on consensual institutional and moral bases, as we have already expressed in our messages. », they noted.