MONUSCO has a key role in supporting the electoral process [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 7 March 2018
I would like to begin by acknowledging the presence of the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Léonard She Okitundu. I thank him for being with us here today. I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Leila Zerrougui for her very enlightening briefing, which underscores succinctly the critical historical moment at which the Democratic Republic of the Congo finds itself. The electoral cycle, which is beginning, will indeed be crucial for the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region as a whole. The challenge is enormous, while the situation is fragile. The serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the recent increase in intercommunal violence and conflict must move the Council to act.
The current instability is largely the result of delays and uncertainties related to the electoral process, which means that the holding of credible and transparent elections on schedule, while at the same time facilitating a peaceful and democratic transition of power, is crucial to the return to stability in the country. That is our shared priority. Accordingly, France stands ready to support the electoral process so that elections can take place in optimal circumstances and in close consultation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s international partners, in particular the African Union and other countries of the region whose role is essential. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has a crucial role to play in that context. I would like to highlight three key factors that will contribute to the smooth holding of elections before returning to MONUSCO’s role.
The first key factor concerns the trust of the entire Congolese people in the sound preparation of the technical aspects of the holding of elections and that the electoral timetable will be respected. Many uncertainties remain with regard to the holding of elections, including, for example, finalizing electoral lists after checking for duplications, while adhering to the prescribed deadlines; the registration process and timetable for Congolese citizens living abroad; the potential use of voting machines and ensuring that the process is transparent through appropriate measures; and the circumstances deemed appropriate for distributing electoral literature throughout the country. All those issues must be open to discussion by all stakeholders, including political parties, potential candidates and civil society The Independent National Electoral Commission has a crucial role to play in that regard, and we encourage it to work in a spirit of transparency and openness so as to build consensus on the technical aspects of the holding of elections. In that regard, we support the effective establishment of a team of international experts to support the electoral process, which the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the European Union, the United Nations and the International Organization of La Francophonie have agreed to dispatch. Trust, based primarily on transparency in the holding of elections, will therefore be the first key factor leading to success.
The second key factor concerns the electoral environment and the return to a spirit of consensus within the framework of the full implementation of the 31 December Political Agreement. If the outcome of the elections is to be accepted by everyone, it is essential that they be held in an open and peaceful environment in which every candidate can announce his or her candidature and campaign freely without fear of reprisal. In that regard, I call once again for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including, above all, the right to demonstrate, as well as the need for the proportional use of force in the context of law enforcement. It is crucial that the violations observed during the most recent demonstrations not be allowed to reoccur and that those responsible for them be brought to justice. I also take this opportunity to recall the need to fully implement the Agreement of 31 December 2016, particularly with regard to measures aimed at defusing the political situation, such as the release of political prisoners and ending the prosecution of members of the opposition so as to allow them to campaign unhindered. Those measures are needed to provide the conditions for the holding of credible and peaceful elections.
In that context — and this is my third and last point — MONUSCO has a key role to play in supporting the electoral process, contributing to the smooth holding of elections in a free, open and peaceful environment, and protecting civilians. Last year, the Council conferred upon MONUSCO an appropriate mandate to pursue those two strategic goals. For its part, the Mission, through its strategic review, has made the necessary adjustments to better respond to current issues, be more flexible and responsive and better protect civilians. This year, we believe that MONUSCO’s priorities must be reaffirmed and maintained. Through its good offices and its technical and logistical support, MONUSCO must help ensure that the right conditions be set in motion for the sound holding of elections. By acting with resolve, completing ongoing reforms and adopting a comprehensive approach that integrates all its components, the Mission must be able to protect civilians in the country more effectively.
The Security Council must lend its full support to MONUSCO in realizing those two strategic priorities. The Council must also provide MONUSCO with the means needed to accomplish those tasks, including by maintaining its troop ceiling and supporting it through solid cooperation with the region so as to ensure the full implementation of the 31 December Agreement and enable all Congolese citizens to trust once more in the process.
In our opinion, those are the conditions needed for the success of the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in accordance with the established timetable. Council members may rest assured of France’s absolute commitment to achieving that goal.