STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR FRANÇOIS BALUMUENE REGARDING UPCOMING NATIONAL DIALOGUE AND ELECTION
WASHINGTON, DC — In response to continued interest in the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ambassador François Balumuene released the following statement today:
“In February 2015, the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) issued an electoral calendar establishing a timeline of activities to be completed in preparation for several elections, including for president. Some activities were dependent on certain political decisions, including those regarding voter eligibility, the allocation of funds, and legal authorities conveyed by our parliament.
Recognizing the significance of these decisions and the importance of seeking broad consensus on them, President Joseph Kabila in May 2015 called on all political parties and civil society institutions to join in a national dialogue focused on creating an environment for a peaceful electoral process. Our government noted at that time that all stakeholders — the CENI, the government, political parties, civil society, donors and international partners — have a role in ensuring the proper execution of our electoral mandate.
Since then, President Kabila has consulted with all of these stakeholders to advance a national dialogue at the earliest date. He invited the United Nations and African Union to participate, and the African Union appointed former Togolese Prime Minister Edem Kodjo to facilitate. The government also refrained from actions that would unilaterally impact the electoral process, so as not to undermine efforts to achieve a political consensus going forward.
The DRC has welcomed strong expressions of support from multilateral institutions for a national dialogue, most recently by the United Nations Security Council in a March 30, 2016 resolution that called on all stakeholders “to engage into an open and inclusive political dialogue over the holding of presidential elections.” The unanimous adoption of this resolution followed recent statements by key officials—including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Mr. Maman Sidikou, who leads the UN peacekeeping operation in the DRC — encouraging an inclusive political dialogue and collective plan to move forward with the electoral process. Our government, a number of political parties and many in civil society look forward to the commencement of this dialogue, but we regret that certain parties have not yet agreed to participate.
Our government remains committed to a dialogue and political consensus, but also recognizes its ultimate responsibility to the Congolese people – which is to respect the Constitution and ensure that election preparations continue despite the evident obstacles. It therefore allocated an initial $300 million earlier this year so the CENI could take steps — including issuing a tender for voter enrollment kits and logistical materials — that advance the electoral process but do not preempt decisions we hope can still come from a national dialogue.
Since its inception, our government’s top priority has been to advance stability, security, economic growth and democratic governance in the DRC. We continue to pursue a responsible course that furthers these objectives, and welcome support from the United States and other nations in this endeavor.”
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