Briefing to the Open Session of the UN Security Council on the Situation in the DRC by SRSG Leila Zerrougui
The perceived credibility of the electoral process remains a key concern. The ongoing review and contestation process, in particular of Presidential candidates, by the Constitutional Court will be key to the legitimacy of the electoral process going forward.
A lack of confidence or a perceived lack of credibility in the CENI or in the decisions of the Constitutional Court would only serve to heighten tensions in this process. Any impressions that the CENI may have gone beyond its remit in the interpretation of the electoral law in determining the eligibility of candidates to stand in the elections would only undermine confidence in the process as a whole. It is hoped that the decisions of the Constitutional Court will help to resolve any ambiguities and instil confidence. The scrupulous applicability of the Constitution and electoral law is therefore key to moving forward.
The more meaningful inclusion of women in the electoral process is a priority if the spirit of Resolution 1325 is to find meaning in the DRC’s current political context, and if women are to play the role in the newly elected government and legislatures which Resolution 1325 foresees. In this regard, supporting women candidates who will run in the elections, and ensuring that women can vote in a free and secure manner on election day, is key.
Continued instances of targeted repression and intimidation of political activists and human rights defenders in certain provinces, as well as other restrictions on political space do not bring confidence. Therefore I continue to call for the lifting of the general ban on public demonstrations and upholding the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are crucial to making meaningful progress as the holding of elections draws nearer.
As the holding of elections approaches, the deteriorating security situation in the Eastern DRC is also of concern. The activities of armed groups, Mayi Mayi and militia have the potential to impact both on the final preparations for the elections and on the Election Day itself. While assuring the security of the elections remains the primary responsibility of the Government, MONUSCO will remain fully engaged in all areas of its operations to support the DRC authorities in preventing and mitigating the activities of such groups.
With less than four months to go now before the holding of elections, it is clear that the required levels of confidence and consensus around key issues still need to be built.
It is also imperative that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms is assured throughout the territory of the DRC in a consistent manner, so that all Congolese citizens can participate freely and fairly in all stages of the electoral process moving forward. A failure to allow for political engagement and participation as foreseen by the Congolese constitution, could jeopardise the peaceful nature and the credibility of the polls.