Elections in the DRC: an opportunity to achieving peace and stability [fr]
Electoral and political process in the DRC
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargée d’Affaires a.i.
Security Council - 27 August 2018
I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, for her excellent briefing and more generally for her exemplary commitment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I also thank the President of the Conférence épiscopale nationale du Congo, Monseigneur Marcel Utembi, whose involvement is essential to the success of the electoral process, for his extremely clear briefing. Lastly, I thank
Ms. Solange Lwashiga Furaha, spokesperson for Rien Sans Les Femmes, for her role in fighting for women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their participation in the political and electoral processes.
The 23 December elections will be a historic moment for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in that they will ensure a peaceful transfer of power for the first time in the country’s history. For the country, it offers a unique opportunity to make a lasting commitment to achieving peace and stability. Those elections belong to the Congolese people. France reaffirms its full respect for the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and encourages the Government to take all measures necessary to ensure a smooth electoral process and the holding of free, inclusive and transparent elections, in accordance with the set timetable and the Constitution. The success of that crucial step in the political history of the country is the shared responsibility and commitment of all. It is therefore up to all stakeholders to maintain the spirit of dialogue and consensus resulting from the 31 December 2016 agreement. I will emphasize two essential conditions on which the success of the electoral process depends.
The first concerns the fact that it must take place in an environment of trust. The opening of political and democratic space, as well as respect for fundamental freedoms — beginning with the freedom of expression and demonstration — are essential. France calls on the Congolese Government to lift the general ban on demonstrations and to release political prisoners as soon as possible, in accordance with the de-escalation measures provided for in the New Year’s Eve agreement, as Monseigneur Utembi recalled earlier. In that regard, respect for human rights and the commitments made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Human Rights Council in Geneva are of the utmost importance.
France also encourages the Congolese authorities to ensure the participation of women in the political process, from which they continue to be excluded too often, as the statistics cited by Ms. Zerrougui earlier highlight.
Respect for the electoral calendar is essential. The trust of the Congolese people depends largely on that factor. Elections must be held on the scheduled date in accordance with the commitment of all parties. France welcomes the legislative and technical progress reflected in the publication of the provisional list of candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission on the evening of 24 August. Furthermore, we welcome once again President Kabila’s decision not to run again in accordance with the Constitution. In order to maintain this positive dynamic, any consideration of altering the electoral calendar must be avoided at all costs.
The next step will be for the Constitutional Court to consider appeals concerning candidatures invalidated by the Independent National Electoral Commission, which must be submitted in the coming days before the publication of the definitive list on 19 September. The decisions of the Court must allow an environment of trust in the electoral process to be preserved, while inclusiveness will be an important factor in the success of the elections. Moreover, France fully respects the sovereign decision of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assume the responsibility of financing and logistical support for the holding of elections. It nevertheless recalls that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) is ready to provide the Democratic Republic of the Congo with logistical support if needed. To that end, it is essential that the competent authorities provide MONUSCO with the information it needs to provide timely support as appropriate.
Technical issues have yet to be resolved. France calls once again on the Independent National Electoral Commission to establish a wider consensus on the use of voting machines by helping all citizens to access and grow comfortable with them. Moreover, we encourage the Independent National Electoral Commission to implement the recommendations made by the International Organization of la Francophonie in its June audit, beginning with the publication of the voter register, on which 6.6 million people are registered without finger prints. Far from being anecdotal, that technical point raises an issue relating to the credibility of the entire process.
The second condition concerns the fact that elections must take place within a peaceful environment. France remains concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In some regions, the situation is likely to call into question the electoral process. Tensions in the Kasai have claimed many lives, while experts commissioned by the Human Rights Council have reported allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The situation in the east of the country, particularly in North and South Kivu, remains extremely worrying and all the more sensitive since the new Ebola epidemic, which was declared on 1 August in the Beni area. In that connection, France welcomes MONUSCO deployments in areas of violence, especially in the eastern part of the country. It is essential to continue to reconfigure MONUSCO so as to strengthen the protection of civilians. Securing future elections and providing logistical support for them, if the authorities so desire, must be MONUSCO’s short-term priority.
France stands shoulder to shoulder with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With its partners in the Security Council, the African Union and in the region as a whole, it will remain committed to ensuring that the electoral process leads to the holding of elections that are free, credible, transparent and inclusive. Beyond the deadlines in December, it is the very future of the country that is at stake in the months to come — a future, we hope, of stability, development and peace.