CpboKeMXYAAOle6On 9 August 2016, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa Tobias Ellwood started a visit to the DRC, a country he described as being “great and with great potential”.

In his various exchanges, the British Minister met with opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, DRC Justice Minister Tambwe Mwamba and the AU-appointed facilitator of the political dialogue Edem Kodjo.

In his meeting with Tshisekedi, Ellwood discussed the importance for all stakeholders in the Congolese polity to “compromise to ensure presidential elections are held as soon as possible”.

With Justice Minister Tambwe Mwamba, the British Foreign Minister for Africa reiterated the “UK’s support for free, fair, and credible elections” at the earliest.

Ellwood took the opportunity to voice concerns to Minister Tambwe over the refusal by DRC authorities to renew Human Rights Researcher Ida Sawyer visa, a move the British Minister termed “troubling”.

Sawyer criticised DRC security forces of using « unlawful and excessive force » in anti-government protests in January 2015 over a proposed amendment of the Constitution to make polls contingent upon a population census that could take years to complete. She early this year called for targeted sanctions against officials responsible for violence against civilians.

In his discussion with Kodjo, Ellwood expressed the UK government’s support to the facilitator in the efforts to organise the dialogue.

The UK is one of the largest donors to the DRC and seeks to consolidate peace and reduce poverty in the country.