DRC likely to face violence without talks - UN official

2016-07-08 11:57

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United Nations - The UN deputy secretary-general warned on Thursday that the Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to face violence and persistent instability unless political opponents hold talks to resolve an impasse over upcoming elections in the country.

Jan Eliasson told the UN Security Council that "this tragic, and still preventable, outcome" would reverse political, security and develop gains over the past few years and require a response "beyond the capacity" of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country.

The opposition has expressed concern that the election set for November will be delayed so that President Joseph Kabila will stay in power longer. This is the president's second and final term under constitutional limits.

DRC has never had a peaceful transfer of power and Eliasson said political tensions are rising.

"In the absence of dialogue there is a real risk that political actors could resort to unilateral decisions which may compound existing political tensions," he warned.

Eliasson strongly backed efforts by the African Union, European Union, UN, and the International Organization of French-speaking countries to try to arrange a national dialogue with all Congolese parties, preferably by the end of July.

He said the ruling majority and the opposition have expressed their support in principle but there is no agreement on participants and the terms under which a dialogue would be held.

In a speech last week, Kabila reiterated the need for dialogue, warned politicians against any attempts to destabilise the country, and said voter registration would begin this month. Opposition presidential candidate Moise Katumbi criticised Kabila for not promising that elections will be on time or that he will step down.

Eliasson stressed that "an inclusive and credible dialogue" that produces an agreement paving the way for presidential and legislative elections "is the only realistic way to defuse political tensions, overcome the electoral impasse and prevent violence."

He urged the international community to "proactively engage" with all Congolese parties to defuse tensions and promote dialogue, stressing that what is at stake is the long-term stability of Congo.

Congo's UN Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita said Kabila last week expressed hope for a dialogue that starts quickly and "ends in consensus for the entire political class of my country."

Kabila also "wants to have free elections ... in a climate which is peaceful in order to keep the peace," he said.

Gata Mavita said the government is carrying out "an awareness-raising campaign" ahead of voter registration.

Read more on:    un  |  drc  |  central africa  |  drc 2016 elections

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