Joint Declaration from the Embassies of the United States of America, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the European Union delegation.
We, the undersigned partners, reiterate our preparedness to accompany the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its people on the way to competitive, peaceful, inclusive, and transparent elections in December. Further, we underscore the importance of a process that meets the aspirations of the Congolese people, and notably includes the full diversity of this nation.
We note the dedicated efforts of the National Independent Electoral Commission to implement this process. Since December, CENI personnel have overcome immense logistical and technical challenges to register millions of Congolese as voters in a compressed time period, sometimes in the face of danger. We take note of concerns raised regarding technical shortcomings, incidents of corruption by officials, and diversion of electoral material as well as steps taken by the CENI and authorities to respond.
We urge CENI to engage with maximum transparency and in a responsive manner to build the confidence of the Congolese people in the results of their efforts. To this end, we encourage CENI to hold stakeholder consultations with civil society and political parties. We take note of CENI’s internal cleaning of the voter register and the audit that followed. However, we note concern that the implementation of the audit did not promote the perception of independent oversight, missing an important opportunity to build the confidence of all stakeholders.
Freedom of speech, assembly, association, and movement are critical components of a free, fair, and peaceful process. We reiterate concerns with excessive use of force in response to recent demonstrations and of restrictions imposed on freedom of movement as well as arbitrary detentions. We take note of, and support, the announcement of investigations into the use of excessive force by security forces during the recent demonstrations. Security forces must respect citizens’ rights as enshrined in the constitution. We also underscore that all political leaders, whether in opposition or aligned with the governing majority, share responsibility for ensuring that this electoral process is peaceful and to reject incitement of violence during the electoral campaign period. We further emphasize the need for respect of fundamental democratic rights and for equal opportunities for all candidates. We condemn efforts to divide based on ethnicity, language, region, or origin, and call on stakeholders to promote inclusion rather than division and condemn the spread of hate speech.
Holding competitive, peaceful, inclusive, and transparent elections, in accordance with the DRC’s constitution and electoral law—with a healthy and robust debate of topics important to all DRC citizens—is a key element in the development of DRC’s democracy, and we, the undersigned partners, reiterate our commitment to supporting the DRC in this effort.