kodjo_dialogueAs announced, the political dialogue started on 1 September 2016 at the Cité de l’OUA in Kinshasa. The forum was convened since last year by President Kabila in order to allow for “peaceful” and “credible” polls and brings together nearly two hundred delegates from the regime, the opposition and the civil society.

The opposition has already picked Vital Kamerhe and Samy Badibanga to be part of the joint moderation team. The regime and the civil society are yet to appoint their moderators.

Keynote speakers at the opening ceremony included the facilitator Edem Kodjo, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Smail Chergui, the head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission (MONUSCO), Mana Sidikou, and Vital Kamerhe.

Kodjo said the dialogue draws its foundation from the Congolese constitution. He indicated that participants would be thrashing out options for the holding of free, credible and peaceful elections in the DRC. Although certain opponents, including Tshisekedi-led Rassemblement and the G7, have boycotted the meeting, the facilitator express hope that “the hand outstretched to the boycotters should be accepted so as to bring the entire Congolese political class around the table”.

In his remarks, Sidikou underscored that “the dialogue remains the only path out of the current impasse,” advising that “otherwise the country will descend into violence”.  He hailed the start of the dialogue wishing it to be “as inclusive and credible as can be”. MONUSCO’s head lamented “the absence of a section of the Congolese political class” which according to him “demonstrates the need for continuous efforts to impress upon the boycotters to be more flexible”.

Chergui on his part affirmed the AU wishes that all political stakeholders should participate in the dialogue “despite all prerequisites not having been met”.  He congratulated the Congolese authorities on “heeding the call of the international community by taking measures to ease political tensions, including the release of political prisoners and the lifting of the ban on certain opposition media”. The AU Commissioner urged the Congolese authorities to do more.

Taking the floor, Kamerhe “thanked the opposition attending the dialogue for appointing him as their leader and co-moderator” and vowed “not to disappoint but to ensure respect for the constitution, UN Resolution 2277 and hand-over of executive power”. He indicated that “the dialogue should seek to set the date for the holding of polls,” requesting “to meet Kabila in order to plot a critical path out of the crisis”.

To ensure the forum is all-inclusive, Kamerhe asked Kodjo “to suspend the dialogue for one or two days to all him and the Catholic Bishops to approach the Rassemblement and G7 for one final time to bring them on board”.

Kodjo accepted saying that Kamerhe had from Friday afternoon to Sunday for his “miraculous catch”.

By Aime Zonveni