The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Ma Zhaoxu (China):
The members of the Security Council expressed their conviction that the elections of 23 December 2018, as an expression of the sovereignty of the people and government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, constitute a historic opportunity for the first democratic and peaceful transfer of power in the DRC, the consolidation of stability in the country and the creation of the conditions for its development.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the progress made in the technical preparations for the elections and the efforts of the Congolese government in financing the elections. They welcomed the decision of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to invite international observer missions, including from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and encouraged the extension of further invitations to other observers. They expressed concern regarding the deficit in trust and remaining differences among Congolese political actors and encouraged them, as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), to work together to address issues of common concern without further delay in the interest of building trust and reaching the largest possible consensus on the technical organization of elections, including regarding the voting machines and the voter registry.
In the run-up to the start of the official electoral campaign on 22 November, the members of the Security Council urged all parties ‑ government and opposition ‑ to engage peacefully and constructively in the electoral process, in order to ensure transparent, peaceful and credible elections and to preserve peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. They further recalled the importance of ensuring the safety and security of candidates and voters during the campaign period.
The members of the Security Council underlined the importance of the entire Congolese political class and the institutions responsible for organizing elections remaining committed to ensuring the success of the electoral process, leading to a peaceful transfer of power, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution and the 31 December 2016 Agreement (the Agreement).
The members of the Security Council called upon all political parties, their supporters, and other political actors to remain fully committed to the Congolese Constitution, the Agreement and the electoral timeline, which together represent the only viable path out of the current political situation. They reiterated that the effective, swift and sincere implementation of the Agreement, including the Agreement’s confidence-building measures in full, such as liberalizing further political space in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, releasing detained members of the political opposition and of civil society, respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of the press, and the right of peaceful assembly, are essential for peaceful and credible elections on 23 December, a democratic transition of power, and the peace and stability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The members of the Security Council encouraged all Congolese stakeholders to create all necessary conditions to ensure a violence-free environment conducive to the peaceful conduct of political activities, to ensure that the elections take place with the requisite conditions of transparency and credibility, including the full and effective participation of women at all stages, and are conducted in accordance with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s international obligations.
The members of the Security Council urged all parties to continue to reject violence of any kind, exercise maximum restraint in their actions and statements by refraining from provocations such as violence and violent speeches and to address their differences peacefully.
The members of the Security Council called on the international community and neighbouring governments to actively support the electoral process in the DRC and to take active steps to prevent any external actions, which would interfere negatively on the election process, its outcome or its legitimacy.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their condemnation of all armed groups active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They further reiterated their demand that all armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence, and immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms.
The members of the Security Council also stressed that international and United Nations staff, including election observers, peacekeepers and experts working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, must be able to safely carry out their tasks. They recalled that the government bears the primary responsibility to protect international staff within its territory and to hold perpetrators accountable. They further recalled that involvement in planning, directing, sponsoring or conducting attacks against Peacekeepers from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) or United Nations and associated personnel, including members of the Group of Experts, constitutes a basis for sanctions designations pursuant to Security Council resolutions.
Finally, the members of the Security Council encouraged the Congolese Government and the CENI to make appropriate and timely use of the cooperation offered and the resources deployed by MONUSCO and make any request for logistical support without further delay to enable MONUSCO to provide such assistance.