DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR NATIONAL DIALOGUE FROM AFRICAN UNION, UN LEADERSHIP AND NATIONAL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF CONGO
KINSHASA—The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today welcomed expressions of support for a national dialogue in advance of upcoming presidential elections from African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission for the DRC (MONUSCO) head Maman Sidikou, and the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO). All recently encouraged such action and a collective plan to move forward with the electoral process.
“We welcome the support and encouragement expressed in recent days by African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, MONUSCO head Maman Sidikou and CENCO for advancing a national dialogue. The cooperation of key stakeholders, including members of opposing political parties, civil society, religious groups and international partners, will be important to ensure a peaceful and transparent environment for the upcoming elections,” said Minister of Media and Communication Lambert Mende.
On 14 January, AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma issued a statement strongly supporting the DRC’s national dialogue as “the only way to address the numerous challenges faced by the country and to consolidate national unity and cohesion.” She called upon “all the political parties of both the majority and the opposition, civil society as a whole, including religious and traditional authorities, citizen organizations as well as the entire Congolese people to join and invest in this noble endeavor to find a consensus that will not only protect the gains made by the DRC in the area of peace, stability, security and development, but also consolidate the ongoing democratic process.” She added that a “national inclusive dialogue in a climate of peace is the only way to attain this objective.” To this end, the AU Commission chairperson requested that Mr. Edem Kodjo, former Togolese Prime Minister and member of the AU Panel of the Wise, to travel to Kinshasa for consultations associated with the launch of this dialogue.
Also on 14 January, UN Special Representative for the DRC Maman Sidikou reported to the UN Security Council that during recent meetings with DRC President Joseph Kabila, “I have expressed MONUSCO's readiness to support an inclusive Congolese process guided by the Constitution.” This followed a 24 December report to the Security Council by UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, in which he encouraged President Kabila and the DRC government to “intensify their engagement with stakeholders across the political spectrum.” Noting the announcement of a national dialogue aimed at forging consensus around the electoral process, the Secretary-General called for this dialogue to be “inclusive and that stakeholders with divergent positions are able to discuss divisive issues in a climate of openness and mutual respect.” He also urged all Congolese stakeholders to “commit to resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation.”
On 4 January, CENCO leaders – who represent the DRC’s assembly of bishops — called for a dialogue and announced the formation of a special committee tasked with maintaining contact with relevant political parties, to encourage mutual trust and advance initiatives aimed at launching the electoral process. Their announcement is available here.
In a recent address to the nation, President Joseph Kabila called for broad public involvement in the national political dialogue in order to ensure a peaceful electoral cycle, stating:
“To support the work of the CENI [Independent National Electoral Commission] and the elections, we have called for a dialogue to identify solutions for peaceful elections. I encourage our fellow citizens to engage in this dialogue. It is not through violence that we will address our differences. Our solutions will come neither from the United Nations, nor from foreign countries in the East or the West but from ourselves and via a dialogue among Congolese who are self determined and responsible for their own future.”
President Kabila first announced his plans for a dialogue in May 2015. Since then, he has consulted with religious leaders, members of opposition parties and his own ruling coalition, diplomats and other foreign representatives to move forward with this critical discussion.
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