February 12, 2018
For Immediate Release
Today, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States hosted an informal Security Council “Arria-formula” meeting on elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The co-hosts organized the meeting to discuss strengthening coordination and joint monitoring of progress by the Security Council and regional actors towards elections in the DRC.
Briefers, Security Council Members, and participants stressed the need for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power through the holding of credible elections in the DRC on December 23, 2018 as announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission’s (the CENI) publication of the electoral calendar in November 2017. They welcomed the progress made to date but agreed on the need for the CENI to adhere to the remaining key benchmarks set forth in the electoral calendar. This includes cleaning the voter registration list, conducting an independent audit of the registration, and respecting deadlines for candidate registration in order to ensure the December 23 election date is respected. Participants also discussed CENI’s plan to deploy, for the first time in DRC history, electronic voting technology nationwide on election day. Some council members expressed concerns about deploying machines without full testing or consensus and agreed that full transparency on the part of CENI regarding the conduct of all aspects of the electoral process is required to increase confidence in the process and ensure the buy-in of all stakeholders.
Security Council members welcomed DRC President Joseph Kabila’s stated public commitment to elections in December 2018 and noted that his public commitment not to seek a third term or change the constitution would be crucial to instill confidence in the electoral process. They reiterated that effective, swift and timely implementation of the December 31, 2016 Agreement is critical to a credible electoral process and the peace and stability of the DRC. Members observed that fulfilling the agreement, releasing political prisoners, ending politically motivated prosecutions, respecting freedom of assembly and expression are essential to creating the political space necessary for credible elections. They stressed that calls for unconstitutional or undemocratic change are inconsistent with democratic norms and the December 2016 Agreement and urged all parties to commit to elections in December 2018. They stressed that credible elections would not be possible without a level playing field for all candidates, an inclusive political process open to all DRC citizens, men and women alike, and freedom of expression without the fear of violence. Security Council co-hosts called for all the Political actors in the DRC to contribute to a peaceful environment during this preparatory electoral process, avoiding provocations such as violence and violent speeches which could affect in one way or in another, the peaceful culmination of this important process.
The hosting Security Council members and African regional leaders agreed to continue to closely follow developments in the DRC and work together to support credible elections towards the DRC’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power. They further emphasized the critical role of the UN, including through the Secretary General’s good offices, and MONUSCO to support the electoral process as agreed with CENI while continuing important political engagement to build trust and confidence in the electoral process.
Security Council co-hosts stressed the need for third parties who deal with illegal trading of precious minerals and arms in the DRC, to stop their actions, as these help fuel conflict and create an insecure environment that negatively impacts the electoral process.
They further welcomed the establishment of a joint team of experts from the United Nations, the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, the Southern Africa Development Community, the European Union and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. They encouraged international and bilateral partners to contribute to funding the multi-partners fund for the Projet d’appui au cycle electoral au Congo (PACEC), and called on the Congolese authorities to enable adequate and timely implementation of the PACEC, including by signing up to the PACEC.