dialogueAs announced by the Facilitator Edem Kodjo on 20 August 2016, the preparatory session for the national dialogue in the DRC started this morning at the conference hall of Béatrice Hotel. Representatives of political parties from the ruling coalition and from certain quarters of the opposition attended the opening ceremony. Also in attendance were members of the civil society. However major opposition platforms and organisations such as the Tshisekedi led Rassemblement boycotted the session.

In his opening speech, Kodjo expressed his “joy to see the long-awaited dialogue at long last begin in the city of Kinshasa”. He nevertheless lamented “the entire Congolese political family did not attend,” underscoring that “the doors are still wide open to our brothers who are absent today”.

Kodjo indicated that task of the preparatory committee will not consist in superseding or replacing the dialogue. The committee will simply pave the way for the forum and establish the ground rules, organise the material, normative and logistical aspects.  He underscored that the dialogue will be held in compliance both with the Congolese constitution and UN Security Council resolution 2277 passed on 30 March 2016. The ultimate objective will be “to arrive at a consensual exercise of power in the DRC” said Kodjo.

From his political exile in Brussels, Moïse Katumbi said “the facilitator should have listened to the demands of the population to ensure the dialogue is inclusive”. He regretted that “the release of all political prisoners as a precondition to the dialogue has not been fully met, which makes the start of the preparatory works a blatant failure”.

Tshisekedi called for a nation-wide strike to protest against the beginning of the preparatory works. The Rassemblement did not send any delegates to the opening session and members of opposition platform termed the opening of preparatory works “a non-event”.

The next session of preparatory works is scheduled for 25 August 2016.

Announced since November 2015, it took nearly ten months for the dialogue to commence.