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Consensual Approach of Civil Society Actors for the end of the Institutional Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Civil society actors from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, held their workshop meeting 14 to 16 May 2018 at Centre d’Etudes pour l’Action Sociale (CEPAS). They reflected on institutional crisis that lasted for almost seven years in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They analyzed the causes and evaluated the possible consequences, considered the most viable exit solutions for the country. In addition they agreed on the following approach to lead the Congolese nation towards credible elections that will allow peaceful political time and will put an end to the crisis that has lasted for a very long duration

What are the facts?
The breakdown of the electoral cycle began in 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the non-organization of the presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections at the end of the constitutional mandate of the President of the Republic in December 2016 did not allow the democratic alternation in the DRC. This state of affairs came to aggravate the political crisis resulting from the contestation of the results of the 2011 presidential election and has plunged the country into political and constitutional uncertainty.

As the deadline for second and final term of the President of the Republic approached in December 2016, the Constitutional Court of the DRC delivered its judgment on May 11, stating that the President of the Republic should remain in power until the installation of the elected President of the Republic, with almost no time limit. Hence, instead of appeasing the political and social climate, this decision of the Court radicalized the opinion of several political and social actors, discrediting the Constitutional Court and calling into question its neutrality.

To mitigate rising tensions on the eve of the end of the mandate of the President of the Republic, Joseph Kabila’s term, in December 2016, the Congolese political class and the civil society, under the facilitation of the National Episcopal Commission of Congo (CENCO), signed the New Year's Eve Agreement in order to create a climate of peace and conditions conducive, for peaceful and credible elections that were to ensure the first democratic alternation in DR Congo for the year 2017.

This mentioned above agreement had the merit of obtaining the commitments and signatures of the delegates of the majority and the opposition in respect with constitution, excluding any possibility of a third term for the President and modification of the constitution as well as organization of the constitutional referendum during this period. The agreement brought calmed among the population that was waiting for the first democratic and peaceful political alternation in the country's history.

Unfortunately, the agreement was not fully respected, particularly with regard to the organization of elections on agreed dates or the implementation of measures to ease the political climate.

The behavior of the political actors members of ruling party (majorly from the presidential), opposition members and of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), characterized by the multiplication of pitfalls against the organization of free, transparent ,peaceful elections and postponing indefinitely likely to create untrustworthy environment for the electoral process .This behavior casts doubt on the will of the Head of State and his political family to facilitate holding credible elections.

What does the civil society recommend?

In connection with the organization of the elections on the deadline of December 23, 2018, civil society stakeholders believe that their holding is possible, provided that a minimum of conditions of transparency, security, credibility and confidence are met.

The rational of this approach of civil society

The bad faith largely demonstrated by the bodies organizing electoral process (Government, Parliament and CENI) do not leave civil societies with possibility grant them "benefit of the doubt" for organizing credible elections and thus obliges actors to be all-round vigilance. The following elements confirmed bad faith:

  • The amendment, by constitutional revision, of the terms of the presidential election in 2011: from two rounds to one round
  • The January 2015 attempt to link the organization of the elections to a census of the population that resulted in bloodily repressed demonstrations
  • Failure to implement the recommendations of the national consultations following the 2011 election crisis
  • The non-organization of the elections in December 2016, which constitutes a serious mistake of non-respect of its constitutional obligation
  • The lack of condemnation, synonymous with tacit acceptance, of the bloody repression of peaceful protests calling for elections in 2016
  • Selective implementation of the provisions of the New Year's Eve Agreement
  • The stranglehold of the President of the Republic on the leaders of the judicial system, including those of the Constitutional Court whose last appointment is marred by numerous irregularities
  • The multiplication of statements by some actors of the Presidential Majority announcing the "forthcoming candidacy of President Joseph Kabila" (e.g. Poster in Kinshasa Delvaux, Speech by the Governor ad interim of Maniema in May 2018, ...)
  • The confiscation of public media
  • The imposition by the CENI of the voting machine without any consensus with all stakeholders
  • The refusal to activate the consultation framework of the stakeholders in the elections


In Conclusion

For the civil society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the real challenge is for the people to reclaim their destiny by putting all their weight on the current electoral process so that elections can be hold in the most transparent and credible way. This should lead to the choice of personalities who can take into account people’s deep aspirations.
The Civil Society of the Democratic Republic of Congo therefore demands respect for ALL referring to the terms of the New Year's Eve Agreement and that:

1. With regard to transparency:

  • The CENI to publish, in the formats accessible to the population, the cartography of the polling stations with the number of registered voters in order to reassure all the stakeholders
  • The CENI eliminate from the electoral register all cases of irregularity detected by the audit conducted by the International Organization of La Francophonie
  • The CENI renounce, before 19/09/2018, the use of the voting machine that does not comply with the Law
  • The CENI to authorize a citizen audit of the electoral register and a parallel counting of votes
  • All Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to sensitize and mobilize the population, lead appropriate electoral process to positively influence the organization of elections in accordance with the electoral calendar
  • CSOs to reinforce their mechanisms of collaboration to ensure the monitoring of the electoral process under way, based on the electoral system of CENCO, in order to organize the electoral center of the Civil Society
  • The judicial authorities prosecute the agents of the CENI responsible or accomplices of the fraud and corruption of the electoral register
  • The Presidential order appointing judges of the Constitutional Court is canceled because of the many irregularities in the process of their appointment.

2. With regard to the legal framework, trust and security:

  • Parliament to consider the revision of the law on the distribution of seats, given the irregularities found in the constitution of the electoral register
  • All actors involved in the electoral process sign an act of commitment to respect for fundamental rights
  • The Government of the Republic implements, BEFORE the submission of candidatures, all the measures to ease the political climate as the New Year's Eve Agreement states, in particular the release of political prisoners
  • The Government of the Republic releases the media and public space, ensures the respect of the freedom of the press and demonstration and the equitable access of all the stakeholders to the public media
  • The Government of the Republic puts in place and finances the plan for securing the electoral process involving all stakeholders
  •  The Government of the Republic prepares security forces for electoral operations
  • The Government of the Republic discusses as soon as possible ways of accessing MONUSCO's specialized units and logistics to strengthen the security of the electoral process in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2409.

Civil society calls on the United Nations, the African Union, SADC, ECCAS and ICGLR to put pressure on all stakeholders in the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to implement, without delay, the Agreement of 31 December 2016 in all good faith and in its entirety, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2348 of 31 March 2017.

List organisations carrying out this approach

1. 4è VOIX
2. Action Chrétienne pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT)
3. Action Citoyenne pour le Développement Intégral du Congo (ACDIC)
4. Action pour le Développement des Populations Défavorisées (ADPD)
5. Action pour une Jeunesse Productive et Responsable (APRORES)
6. Agir pour des Elections Transparentes et Apaisées (AETA)
7. Alternatives Citoyennes pour les Droits de l'Homme (ALCIDHO)
8. Association pour la Promotion Humaine (APROHU)
9. Association africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO)
10. Association Nationale des Photographes de la RDC (ANAPHO)
11. Association pour le Développement Humain (ADH)
13. Bureau de Liaison avec le Parlement (BLP /CENCO)
15. Comité Académique pour la Recherche des Principes (CARP)
16. CELEST « C.E. »
17. Centre Arrupe pour la Recherche et la Formation (CARF)
18. Centre d’Etudes Politiques (CEP UNIKIN)
19. Centre d’Etudes Pour l’Action Sociale (CEPAS)
20. Centre de Recherche et d’Etudes sur l’Etat de Droit en Afrique (CREEDA)
21. Centre des Droits de l’Homme – Université Kongo (CDH-UK)
22. Centre Panafricain pour l’Education au Développement (CEPANED)
24. Citoyens Lésés
25. Club Universitaire des Volontaires UNIKIN
26. Club Universitaire des Volontaires UPN
27. Coalition Nationale des Organisations des Volontaires pour le Développement (CNOVD)
31. Collectif 2016 pour le changement
32. Commission Episcopale des Ressources Naturelles (CERN/CENCO)
33. Commission Episcopale Justice et Paix (CEJP/CENCO)
34. Compte à Rebours
35. Congrès International Congolais (CIC)
36. Corps des Volontaires pour la Paix et le Développement
38. Dynamique de la Société Civile pour les Grands-Lacs (DYSOCIV)
40. Engagement Citoyen pour le Changement (ECCHA)
45. Forum de la Jeunesse Congolaise (FODJEC)
46. Forum des Femmes pour la Bonne Gouvernance et le Développement (FFBGD)
48. Institut de Recherche en Droits de l’Homme (IRDH)
49. JCRC
50. Jeunesse du Monde
51. La Voix des Sans Voix (VSV)
52. Laïcat de l'Armée du Salut
53. Les Amis de Nelson Mandela
54. Les Collectifs des Jeunes Pro Changement
55. Les Congolais Debout
56. Ligue des Electeurs
58. Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA)
59. Lutte pour un Congo de Valeurs (LUCOV)
61. Mouvement pour la Réforme Sociale (MORESO)
62. Nouveau Leadership Performant Transformationnel (NLPT)
63. Œuvres Sociales pour le Développement Intégral de l’Homme (OSDIH)
64. Organisation Congolaise des Ecologistes et Amis de la Nature (OCEAN)
66. Réseau des Organisation des Droits de l’Homme et d’Education Civique d’Inspiration Chrétienne (RODHECIC)
67. Réseau National des ONGs des Droits de l’Homme de la RDC (RENADHOC RDC)


For Civil Society Organizations,

Alain Nzadi-a-Nzadi SJ
Managing Director of CEPAS & Editor in Chief of Congo-Afrique