We are deeply concerned by the limits on freedom of assembly imposed by the DRC government and local authorities. We particularly regret the October 22 arrest of numerous opposition party members in Lubumbashi and support MONUSCO’s call for their release.
Prohibitions on public meetings, the disruption of peaceful political activities, and arbitrary arrests are inconsistent with democratic norms as well as freedom of assembly and expression, both of which are guaranteed by the Congolese constitution.
In order to have peaceful and credible elections in accordance with the Saint Sylvestre agreement, all political leaders and civil society members must be free to hold public meetings. It is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that these meetings can take place in peace and security. Congolese citizens must feel free to attend and participate in these events without fear of violence, arbitrary arrest, or retribution.
We therefore call on the government and security forces to ensure that peaceful events organized by civil society and opposition parties can occur without interference. Opposition party leaders also have a responsibility to ensure that their events and their supporters respect democratic norms and the rule of law.