Statement by John Kirby, Spokesperson: On Defending Democratic Space in the DRC

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is experiencing a historic year that should – according to that country’s constitution – culminate in the DRC’s first democratic transfer of executive power. The United States supports the Congolese people in their pursuit of timely, free, and fair elections and underscores the importance of open political space to a credible electoral process.

We are deeply concerned by the government’s arrest and intimidation of Congolese citizens participating in and preparing for peaceful political activity in Kinshasa and Haut Katanga Province the weekend of April 24. The DRC government has, under its own constitution and its international human rights obligations, the responsibility to respect its citizens’ human rights including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Repression destroys the trust and confidence of the very citizens who are needed for any credible dialogue amongst all Congolese stakeholders.

The United States underscores UN Security Council resolution 2277’s pronouncement that a peaceful and credible electoral cycle, in accordance with the constitution, is critical to the DRC’s long-term stabilization and consolidation of democracy. As Secretary Kerry told President Kabila recently, we stand ready to support those committed to such elections. The United States strongly believes that the Congolese people, free of fear, should shape the future of Congo.