8443rd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Democratic Republic of Congo

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11-Jan-2019 02:50:01
Amid disputes over early results in Congolese elections, parties must pursue country’s first peaceful transfer of power, Security Council told at 8443rd meeting.

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Despite varied disputes over preliminary voting results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all stakeholders must remain steadfast in pursuing peace ahead of the nation’s first‑ever democratic transfer of power after decades of conflict, the Security Council heard today in briefings on the political landscape and prospects ahead.

Under discussion were the largely peaceful 30 December 2018 national, provincial and presidential elections, preliminary results announced on 10 January, which put Félix Tshisekedi in first place for President, and the swift and varied reactions of some stakeholders. Providing a snapshot of developments on the ground from Kinshasa via video-teleconference, Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said millions of Congolese had shown their commitment to the political process and their determination to exercise their democratic right to vote.

“We must therefore show our collective solidarity with them as the electoral process is finalized and as the Democratic Republic of the Congo prepares to undertake the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history,” she said.

Summarizing the work of their respective election observation missions, the African Union’s Permanent Observer and Zambia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, who led a monitoring team for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said all stakeholders must now pursue disputes peacefully through the existing legal framework and political dialogue.

Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo, President of the Independent National Electoral Commission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also via videoconference from Kinshasa, said it is critical for the international community to support the new authorities while relevant judicial bodies deal with any challenges. Recalling that despite difficulties and “complete and utter distrust” among all stakeholders, including the international community, the elections unfolded smoothly. Yet, it was no surprise that early results were challenged by the Catholic Church, which disputed election outcomes in 2006 and 2011, he said, stressing that the 10 January announcement was in line with the law and challenges should be addressed through relevant existing mechanisms.

Meanwhile, Marcel Utembi Tapa, Archbishop of Kisangani and President of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo, recalling efforts of the Catholic Church over the years to promote democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the Electoral Commission’s preliminary results did not match its own estimates. To address the discrepancy, he asked the Electoral Commission to publish as soon as possible its data from each polling station and the Security Council to invite stakeholders to prioritize peace pending the final election outcome.

Council members raised their own concerns about health crises and sporadic violence, with many calling for calm following the milestone elections and encouraging political actors to use existing legal avenues to resolve differences. Urging the international community to conduct itself in a responsible manner, the Russian Federation’s representative said any speculation on the voting results is unacceptable, as it would generate far-reaching repercussions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and countries of the region. The Council must maintain unity to take a pacific, balanced approach in a manner that fully respects the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s sovereignty, he said.

Members commended the Government, election observers and MONUSCO for their roles. Others recognized that despite facing many hurdles, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its people had made their voices heard in free and fair elections. Echoing a common view among Council members from the continent, Equatorial Guinea’s representative said all of Africa is proud of what the Congolese people have achieved.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the next important steps are publishing the final vote count and handling concerns about preliminary figures in a manner that conforms with the Constitution, electoral laws and existing mechanisms and institutions. In this regard, it is not wise for the international community to make demands that would supplant the primacy of these institutions, he said. It is critical that the peaceful environment seen during the elections continues during the publication of the results.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is drafting a new chapter in its history,” he said. Asking the international community and friendly nations to provide the necessary support for further progress on his country’s journey into a new, peaceful era, he extended thanks to regional and international partners for their critical assistance in the past.

Also delivering statements were representatives of France, China, Belgium, United States, Peru, Germany, Poland, Kuwait, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic.

The meeting began at 9:38 a.m. and ended at 12:28 p.m.

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