Alarm Over Protests and Harassment of the U.S. Special Envoy in the DRC

The United States is disappointed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo electoral commission’s (CENI) failure to announce an elections calendar today as called for by the DRC constitution. We are also deeply alarmed by reports of violence that occurred alongside civic protests today in Kinshasa, and which reportedly has already resulted in the deaths of protestors and police.

We condemn all violence and call upon all Congolese stakeholders to exercise restraint and avoid provocation, while reiterating that the DRC Government has the primary responsibility for protecting human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Today’s events underscore the need for a truly inclusive dialogue process aimed at reaching consensus on holding presidential elections as soon as technically feasible and guaranteeing the country’s first democratic transition of power.

The United States is also outraged and deeply disturbed by the physical obstruction and verbal aggression aimed at U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa Tom Perriello while he was departing from the Kinshasa airport on September 18. Special Envoy Perriello was in Kinshasa for ten days, meeting with a wide range of government, opposition, civil society, and international actors to encourage participation in a dialogue that respects the spirit of the DRC constitution and is aimed at reaching consensus on holding elections as soon as technically feasible. The Special Envoy is a well-known figure in Kinshasa and was blocked and verbally threatened in an area of Kinshasa’s N’djili Airport that is tightly secured by Congolese authorities. The U.S. Government protests this treatment of its Envoy in the strongest possible terms.

The United States believes that any individuals who are responsible for perpetrating violence or repression should be held accountable, and remains ready to impose additional targeted sanctions.