The United States recognizes that the coming weeks will be critical in determining whether the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) pursues a path of democratic principles and compromise, or one that risks a return to violence and instability.

We underscore our support for the discussions facilitated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CENCO) between the political opposition and the Government of the DRC to reach a consensus path towards credible, timely elections.  The success of these discussions, building on and strengthening the African Union-facilitated agreement of October 18, will depend on good faith participation, serious commitments, and tangible concessions by both the political opposition and the DRC Government.

We urge the DRC Government and the opposition to work with CENCO to address remaining concerns, including a timeline for presidential elections in 2017, guarantees that President Kabila will not seek another term and the constitution will not be changed to enable one, increased independence of the national electoral commission (CENI) leadership, an inclusive transitional government, and a strong independent oversight committee.

We urge the opposition Rassemblement coalition under the leadership of Etienne Tshisekedi to offer constructive and practical proposals and refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or actions inconsistent with democratic norms.  For its part, the DRC Government should seize the opportunity afforded by the recent appointment of Prime Minister Samy Badibanga to build trust and confidence among all stakeholders and fulfill its responsibility to respect and protect the fundamental rights of all Congolese citizens, including the freedoms of speech and assembly and the right to access information.

Working together, the government, the opposition, and the Congolese people can chart a new, peaceful path for their country’s future, but the time for reaching a consensus is running short.  The United States stands ready to support the Congolese people in meeting this important challenge.

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
November 21, 2016