DRC National Dialogue Agreement and Steps Toward Presidential Election
On October 18, representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s presidential majority, political opposition and civil society concluded a national dialogue with an agreement on the organization and implementation of peaceful, credible and transparent elections in the coming months. The agreement establishes specific terms for the DRC’s electoral process going forward, including:
- Creation of a transitional unity government that includes majority and opposition party members
- Appointment of an opposition party member as Prime Minister
- Completion of a national voter registry by July 31 of next year
- Presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections by April 2018
- Establishment of an election monitoring group comprised of political and civic organizations
- Periodic meetings of United Nations, African Union, European Union and other multilateral organization representatives to evaluate progress in the agreement’s implementation
Upon receiving this agreement, President Joseph Kabila pledged to work with all institutions of the republic to ensure its full and speedy implementation and the organization of credible, peaceful and transparent elections pursuant to the terms agreed upon by all parties. He also welcomed the efforts of dialogue participants to ensure that their agreement complied in full with the DRC’s Constitution.
Since October, thirteen opposition party leaders who did not participate in the national dialogue have added their signatures to the agreement.
On November 17, President Kabila announced the appointment of Samy Badibanga Ntita, chairman of the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and Allies parliamentary group, as Prime Minister. The government has also encouraged ongoing efforts by the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo to engage in dialogue with other opposition parties to promote further political reconciliation.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE AGREEMENT
Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“The Secretary-General welcomes this first concrete step in the implementation of the political agreement, which is expected to culminate in the holding of credible elections in the country…. The Secretary-General welcomes the mediation efforts led by the Conférence épiscopale du Congo (CENCO) and calls on political groups that did not sign the political agreement to remain engaged and work towards the peaceful resolution of their differences.” (11/17/16)
U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby
“We urge the opposition Rassemblement coalition under the leadership of Etienne Tshisekedi to offer constructive and practical proposals and refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or actions inconsistent with democratic norms. For its part, the DRC Government should seize the opportunity afforded by the recent appointment of Prime Minister Samy Badibanga to build trust and confidence among all stakeholders and fulfill its responsibility to respect and protect the fundamental rights of all Congolese citizens….” (11/21/16)
Francois Delattre, French Ambassador to the United Nations
“The DRC is at a pivotal moment in its history. For the first time, a peaceful transition of power at the end of the president’s mandate is possible.” (11/14/16)
President Joseph Kabila
“I welcome the various recommendations arising from this important national forum, in particular the Political Agreement for the organization of peaceful, credible and transparent elections in our country….
It sets out realistic and responsible perspectives, both for the organization of elections and for the stability of the institutions during the pre-electoral, electoral and post-election period.” (State of the Nation Address, 11/15/16)
Vital Kamerhe, Leader of leader of the Union for the Congolese Nation opposition party
We have chosen to dialogue in order to obtain a change in power in our country, within a very short time, without firing a shot, without shedding blood and without burning houses of people. I feel that losing a year and making sure that we have a change in power is better than embarking on the path of violence.” (10/17/16)
Willy Mishiki, President of the Union of Nationalists opposition party
“We have obtained guarantees regarding the establishment of the new government that we are going to steer.... It is a political and republic-minded will that pushes us to do it because we do not want the country to plunge into chaos. We must at all costs spare the country from a bloodbath " (10/31/16)
Joint Communiqué by the AU Peace and Security Council and the EU Political and Security Committee
“This Agreement should pave the way to a more inclusive process with the Congolese political stakeholders who did not participate in the Dialogue, in order to broaden support for a peaceful roadmap towards elections in the country. The AU PSC and EU PSC stressed that the elections should be inclusive and transparent and that respect for the Constitution must be ensured, taking into account the provisions of the Agreement.” (10/25/16)
Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of the International Organization of the Francophonie
“She welcomed the patient work of Mr. Edem Kodjo and the commitment of the stakeholders to the dialogue to reach a peaceful solution to the current crisis in the DRC…. [The International Organization of La Francophonie] reaffirms its commitment to deepen the actions already undertaken in favor of the political and electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in close liaison with international partners.” (10/16)
Southern Africa Development Community
“SADC pledges continued support and calls upon the government and stakeholders in the DRC and the international Community to honor and support the Agreement for sustainable peace and prosperity of the DRC. SADC urges those not taking part in the Dialogue to participate and commit to the implementation of the agreement leading to the general elections, and smooth and peaceful transition of power.” (10/19/16)