Saturday, October 24th
3:00PM - 5:00PM
Special Panel Discussion



Exploring Prospects for Peaceful Political Change in Congo

The dominant issue that has consumed the Congolese social and political landscape is the fate of President Joseph Kabila. According to the constitution, Joseph Kabila must step down in December 2016 when the second of his constitutionally mandated two five-year terms will come to an end. Unfortunately, President Kabila and his supporters have pursued diverse tactics to remain in power beyond December 2016. As a result, the political climate has become increasingly tense and unstable. A broad cross-section of domestic and international entites have called on President Kabila to respect Congo's constitution, organize presidential elections and leave power peacefully in 2016.

At the forefront of those challenging the President and his supporters are Congolese youth who are demanding change in the country. In January 2015, the youth rose up against one of President Kabila's maneuvers to cement his hold on power beyond 2016. The uprising, dubbed Telema (“Rise up” in Lingala), resulted in at least 42 dead at the hands of Kabila's security forces, dozens injured and hundreds arrested.

The political situation remains unstable and precarious. Panelists will explore the current political climate and prospects for the Congolese population mobilizing to assure that President Kabila respects the country's constitution and step down in 2016.


Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is a professor of African, African American, and diaspora studies at the University of NOrth Carolina at Chapel Hill and professor emeritus of African stud- ies at Howard university. He is a past president of the African Studies Association and the author of “The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History” and “Patrice Lumumba”.

Sarah M. Kazadi covers a wide range of topics and her video and writing work has appeared in the New York Times, CBS Sports, Newsweek and other news platforms. Sarah is currently working on a documentary about the role the Congolese youth is playing in the country’s pivotal 2016 elections.

Additional panelists TBA