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Eliot E.
Democrat NY 16

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  • Congo-Brazzaville

    by Representative Eliot L. Engel

    Posted on 2014-12-11

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    ENGEL of new york in the house of representatives Thursday, December 11, 2014 Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, 2015 will be an important year for the future of African democracy. Many countries on the continent will either hold or prepare for Presidential elections. If recent history is any guide, some long-serving African leaders will be tempted to alter constitutions or take other quasi-legal steps to extend their rule. I strongly encourage these leaders, including President Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, to resist this temptation and to respect the will of their people.



    Congo-Brazzaville has enormous natural resource wealth, including oil, minerals and timber. In 2014, the nation's GDP will be an estimated $12.9 billion. It has also received nearly $2 billion in debt relief since 2010. However, it is ranked 142 out of 186 on the U.N. Human Development Index--in other words, human development is low. Political opposition is repressed, so discussion about governance and how to improve and deliver broader economic growth is limited.

    In 2016, when it is time for the people of Congo-Brazzaville to go to the polls and elect a President, they deserve the chance to choose a new leader who will endeavor to deliver equitable growth to their country. According to the constitution, that should be their right-- President Nguesso's two 7-year terms will have expired. However, there are indications that he is considering amending that constitution so he is eligible to run again, further extending his 30-year long rule.

    The events in Burkina Faso earlier this fall should give pause to any leader considering constitutional changes that would allow them to extend their rule. President Nguesso should allow the voters of Congo- Brazzaville to select a new leader and engage in real democracy--a process that involves a peaceful change in government.

    Let 2015 be a year filled with peace and prosperity for the Congolese people. Let a legitimate, democratic transfer of power be the legacy of President Sassou-Nguesso. Let his actions serve as a model and inspiration for other leaders in the region. And let democracy and the rule of law prosper in sub-Saharan Africa.

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