Despite its immense natural resources and its potential for growth, the DRC is a fragile state and a young democracy still in quest for peace and stabilization. Democratic consolidation cannot be con-sidered in isolation from the long period of autocratic rule and wars in Congo itself and from the sit-uation in the Great Lakes region, in particular in the eastern regions of DRC bordering Rwanda and Uganda. After holding two general elections the DRC is still seeking a peaceful settlement of the rebellion in the East and the internal reforms much needed to advance the democratization process. Today, cautious hopes are being expressed that the period of rebellions and armed conflicts is finally drawing to an end and that an important momentum has emerged for democratic reform and for an improvement of relations between the country and its eastern neighbours. Nevertheless, the case of DRC shows how the international emphasis put on elections should be mitigated when expressed towards countries lacking accountable institutions and decent socio-economic conditions for the majority of the citizens.
Leonardo Baroncelli, former ambassador in the DRC.