February 20, 2014, 12:19 pm
Affleck to testify on Congo
By Mario Trujillo
Ben Affleck is slated to testify next Wednesday about the prospects for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Oscar-winning director of "Argo" is the founder of the Eastern Congo initiative, which is dedicated to economic and social development in that country.
The group, started in 2010, focuses on community-based approaches with an emphasis on public and private partnerships, according to its website.
Affleck is no stranger to Washington, or to the politics of issues related to the Congo.
This will be his third appearance on Capitol Hill in the last few years. Affleck last testified before the House Armed Services Committee in December 2012 about the security situation in Congo and its implications for national security.
“From the outset, let me say that I am not here to ask for precious American tax dollars, I am here today to respectfully request you use the most important power you have, your collective voice as representatives of the United States of America,” he said at the time.
In 2011, he testified before the House Foreign Relations subpanel on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights on the subject.
He also appeared with Hillary Clinton at a conference in 2012 about child mortality rates, which are some of the highest in the Congo.
A similar request for Affleck to testify in the House of Representatives this year was declined, according to Foreign Policy, which first reported the news. The news outlet said it was unclear why the offer was declined. But an aide was quoted as saying it would not be appropriate given other experts in the field.
Other witnesses testifying on Wednesday at the hearing, titled “Prospects for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Great Lakes Region,” include former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who is now U.S. special envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo; former U.S. ambassador to the country Roger Meece; and Raymond Gilpin of the National Defense University.