KINSHASA — On Monday, December 14, President Joseph Kabila delivered his annual
State of the Nation address to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC). In it, he reviewed recent developments in the DRC and looked ahead to the
coming year.

Highlighting the President’s speech was his call for broad public involvement in the
national political dialogue he has convened in order to ensure a peaceful
electoral cycle. He explained that:

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.

Stating that “Our goal is to consolidate our democracy, ensure our stability,” President
Kabila expressed his hope that “as we finish the dialogue, we are more unified.”
He also noted the importance of the elections sustaining and building on DRC’s
progress to date, stating that “the sacrifice we have gone through not be compromised
under any circumstances by individuals who are refusing the dialogue and identifying
mechanisms to destabilize the country.” He reassured the public that “where people
want death we will ensure safety, where others want destruction, we see growth and
development. It is up to our citizens during the elections next year to identify on which
side of our history they want to be on.”

President Kabila also addressed a number other issues during his speech, including the

On the DRC’s security and those who had sacrifice their lives for it:

“Thanks to our Armed Forces and the working relationship our security forces
have fostered with our population, we have further pacified our country. We have
migrated from conventional wars to isolated acts of terrorism. We will continue to
protect our borders and our people while at the same time deploy our security
forces to ensure our interests and those of countries in distress are protected

President Kabila also issued his condolences “to all the families who have lost
loved ones during the recent flooding throughout the country and to all the
individuals who have lost their lives to protecting our country this year.”

On the economy and infrastructure:

“We have registered strong economic growth [in the past year]. Our growth rate
is 7.7 percent and inflation is less than 1 percent. Yet the slow global growth
environment has hampered our way forward. To that end, I have requested that
our government embrace measures to diversify the economy within sectors such
as agriculture and industry.

“We have also identified measures and a task force to ensure a reduction in
government spending and to eradicate corruption.

“We need to improve the flow of foreign direct investment, identify new sources
of revenues and support the creation of public-private partnerships, small
businesses and the development of entrepreneurship to attain our 2030
development goals.

“We should be particularly proud of our investment in infrastructure, especially
roads which will facilitate domestic and regional integration…. Every day that
goes by, we see improved infrastructure linkages between our cities and regions
and from food producing areas to consumers. We are rebuilding airport
infrastructure and maritime transportation capabilities. We have improved safety
in our skies and the Congo River and launched the state-owned airline Congo
Airways. We have also acquired railroad equipment and relaunched rail

In this regard, President Kabila announced that “in 2016, we will continue to
invest in further road, health and education development.”
On health and education:

“We have eradicated polio and reduced infant mortality by 30 percent. On
education, we need to match skill sets to job preparedness for our students to
enter the workforce and contribute to the development of the economy.”

On sexual violence and human trafficking:

“We have made combating sexual violence a priority by fighting armed groups
and applying the the full force of the law to perpetrators. We have prosecuted
more than 135 military officials and reduced by 33 percent the occurrence of
sexual abuse. We have also protected our most vulnerable from human
trafficking by imposing a moratorium on international adoption.”

On the recently-completed COP21 climate change agreement:

“We welcome the agreement from Paris that was universal, sustainable,
measurable and accompanied by financial incentives.”
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