Following overdue elections, the National Electoral Commission known as CENI in the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced that the process will now take place in December, 2018.
In welcoming the decision, the U.S. State Department says “the DRC has taken a significant step toward realizing its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power. It is now incumbent on the CENI, the government, opposition party leaders, civil society organizations, and the people of the DRC to work together to ensure that the electoral deadlines published by the CENI are respected, and that all actions and statements remain within the framework of the DRC constitution and the December 2016 St. Sylvestre Agreement.”
In a press statement issued on Tuesday in Washington DC. and copied to West African Journal Magazine, the Trump Administration noted the “importance of President Kabila abiding by the DRC’s constitution, reaffirmed in the St. Sylvestre accord, that he will not seek a third term and will step down following elections.”
The U.S. State Department noted ” the urgent need for the DRC government to implement the confidence building measures included in the December Agreement. This includes an end to politically motivated prosecutions, the release of political prisoners, and respect for the right of peaceful assembly and association, so that opposition parties and civil society organizations may hold peaceful public meetings without government interference or intimidation.”
Citing long running violence and logistical issues in the Kasai region, the electoral body said it was impossible to hold elections in the area. The DRC led by President Joseph Kabila has seen an upsurge in protest and violence since his the expiration of his second full term in December , 2016.
Attempts to change the constitution to allow Kabila to continue in office have been met with violent citizens protests in which some people have died.
The United States says it “is committed to working with the people and institutions of the DRC, the African Union, regional and international partners, and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to ensure that the estimated 45 million Congolese voters are able to cast their ballots on time and as scheduled in December 2018.”
West African Journal Magazine