DRC : ensuring the credibility of the political process [fr]
Statement by by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representtive of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 26 July 2018
I warmly thank the Special Representative of the Secretary- General, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, for her very enlightening briefing and, more broadly, for her exemplary commitment and action as well as that of her teams. I also thank Ms. Justine Masika Bihamba, Coordinator of Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence, for her important and inspiring testimony. Finally, I thank Ambassador Alotaibi, Permanent Representative of Kuwait, for his briefing in his capacity as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At this crucial time for the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our shared priority is clear. The aim is to hold the elections on the scheduled date in December, and to ensure that they are held in good conditions. Indeed, only full respect for the Constitution and democratic transition can guarantee stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the entire region.
This is a challenge but also an historic opportunity for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
From there, our road map is to encourage the authorities to take all steps in this direction and to call on all stakeholders to respect the spirit of consensus that prevailed when the political agreement of 31 December 2016 was signed.
In this context, maintaining the unity of international partners will be crucial to the success of the process. Beyond the unity shown by the Security Council, we must continue to work closely with the African Union and the countries of the region, which play an essential role. In this regard, I welcome the adoption of the 19 July joint communiqué by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the Security Council, which perfectly illustrates the convergence of views between the two Councils on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is an essential point.
In this regard, I would particularly like to stress two elements that are essential to the success of the process under way.
The first element is the need to restore Congolese confidence in the technical preparations for the elections. Most of the deadlines have been met so far, which is a positive point. The audit of the electoral register by the International Organization of la Francophonie showed that the register could be improved and the Independent National Electoral Commission undertook to make the necessary corrections. This is a good thing, and we expect concrete action to be taken quickly to that end.
However, some uncertainties remain, particularly regarding voting machines and election logistics. With respect to logistics, we have taken note of the willingness of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to pay for the organization of the elections in its entirety. However, I would like to reiterate what Ms. Zerrougui has just said, that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) is at the disposal of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to provide logistical support. The necessary resources have been made available by the General Assembly. It is essential that the relevant authorities transmit to MONUSCO all necessary information to enable the Mission to provide such support in a timely manner, as appropriate. It is imperative that the timing and proper conduct of the elections not be called into question for logistical reasons.
With regard to voting machines, we call on the Independent National Electoral Commission to be transparent so that all citizens have access to the machines and can become familiar with how they work. There are a number of technical questions, which must be answered in order to ensure everyone’s confidence in the technical preparations for the elections.
The second element required for success is the importance of ensuring the credibility of the political process leading up to the elections. Above and beyond respect for the various stages of the electoral calendar, transparency in the process, along with the opening up of the political and democratic space, are vital to the holding of credible and peaceful elections. The political meetings that took place without incident in Kinshasa in recent weeks is a positive sign. We must continue along that path.
We call in particular upon the Congolese Government to lift the ban on demonstrations and take tangible action to implement the 31 December 2016 agreement through de-escalation measures, the release of political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, and the end of politically motivated legal proceedings. All candidates should be able to compete freely and on equal footing, and voters should be able to make their choice with full awareness and without being coerced. In that regard, respect for human rights, and in particular the commitments made by the authorities to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, is obviously a crucial element.
I will end my remarks with a word on the security and humanitarian situation, which remains of concern. New pockets of tension have emerged in the east of the country, which have resulted in several civilian casualties. Investigations of the situation in the Kasai, conducted by the Group of Experts commissioned by the Human Rights Council, have revealed that war crimes and crimes against humanity may have been committed in that region. MONUSCO took swift action to respond to tensions, which proves the relevance of its new operations concept of protection through projection. I commend the Mission on its important work and encourage it to continue its transformation in order to achieve optimal efficiency.
The Security Council has sent a clear message to the perpetrators of abuses by imposing new sanctions against individuals responsible for committing serious human rights violations. Impunity will not be tolerated. France encourages the Congolese authorities to conduct a prompt investigation into abuses reported by the Human Rights Council so that those responsible can be brought to justice.
France, together with its partners in the Security Council, the African Union and the region, will remain resolute and committed to supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo so as to ensure that the elections are conducted in the right conditions and that they usher in a new era of stability and development for the country and its people.