Warning: Video contains graphic content.

As uncertainty around whether presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will go ahead in November, analysts have said only a democratically elected president may put an end to the human rights abuse linked to Congo's mineral trade.

London Mining Network's co-chair Andy Whitmore described conflict mining as any mining that takes place where there is armed conflict but is particularly funded by non-state actors.

DRC's mineral potential, worth $24tn (£16.9tn) – the size of the US and European GDPs combined – is a curse, which Western powers have sought to have their share in by either maintaining tyrannical leaders, invading Congo or fanning political instability through violent armed groups fighting government troops (FARDC) to control mines and smuggling routes.

Those minerals, which include tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, have denied local people the peace, stability and prosperity that could result from the ethical management of the the nation's natural resources, said Bandi Mbubi, founder of Congo Calling, an NGO working to raise awareness of the role of conflict minerals in fuelling the conflict in the DRC.

"Congo is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural wealth and it's really important to make sure that while the world uses the resources from the Congo, it is also responsible in terms of assisting Congo to restore itself to the level that it is able to look after itself," Mbubi told IBTimes UK.

DRC elections
Congolese waiting to cast their ballot in the 2006 presidential run-off vote intended to end decades of war, pillage and kleptocracy that have left the huge country devastated and poor despite its mineral richesREUTERS/ Jiro Ose

A large part of those living in Congo's ravaged Eastern Region have faced mass executions, displacement, the systematic use of child soldiers and the effects of sexual violence as a weapon of war used against Congolese women and girls to fracture the structure of society.

Mbubi said: "Effectively even when there was a semblance of peace, the populations – the citizens of the Congo never really benefited from the wealth that our mining was able to produce.

"So even when violence at a large scale stopped, you still had people who were very poor because the wealth was not used for the population, it was mostly for the mining companies that were extracting the minerals, but also for the ruling elite that were benefiting largely from it."

While Wivine Mumba Matipa, a former minister of President Joseph Kabila, said the highly anticipated 2016 elections may also bring a plethora of opportunities for foreign investors, UN experts believe democratic elections will aid towards better scrutiny over mining deals, and the misuse of mining revenue.

Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told IBTimes UK: "[DRC] needs support from developed countries and the [Congolese] people need to be educated and empowered about what is happening to their countries so they can also make informed decisions about the kind of leaders they want, so there's a mutual partnership between the citizens and the legislator and the international community."

IBTimes UK has not been able to obtain a comment from DRC's government.

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