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AMERICA ON DRC ELECTIONS: Respect The Will Of The People & Allow Them To Vote Freely

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield says President Félix Tshisekedi’s government is repressing the opposition ahead of the December 20, 2023 presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thomas-Greenfield made the remarks during a United Nations (UN) Security Council session in New York on Thursday, September 28, 2023 and discussed issues surrounding the presence of MONUSCO in the eastern parts of the country.

Thomas-Greenfield said free and fair elections should be non negotiable to guarantee the stability of a country that has suffered civil wars since inception

“Free and fair elections are key to the DRC’s future stability. I want to thank MONUSCO for its logistical support, including transporting electoral materials in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield said while President Tshisekedi has condemned hate speech, he was not doing enough to demonstrate concrete actions to protect minority communities from violence in the country.

“The United States is also concerned by political repression as elections approach – including infringements on civic expression, harassment and violence towards opposition and civilian society members by security forces, and judicial proceedings involving two declared presidential candidates.

“All Congolese people should be able to cast votes for the candidates of their choice free of worry about security and safety. That is the least they could expect from their government,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield said MONUSCO, a mission of peacekeepers under attack from locals and the government, needs the UN Security Council’s support including that of the DRC government.

“Threats and attacks against MONUSCO is unacceptable. The United States is committed to an orderly and coordinated transition of MONUSCO, and to assisting the DRC government to strengthen key governance, justice, and security institutions.

“We have heard the DRC government’s call for MONUSCO to begin planning its transition out of the country, most recently through the Minister’s letter to the Council. We appreciate and we share the DRC’s commitment to a responsible, orderly, progressive, and successful withdrawal, while continuing to prioritize the protection of civilians.

“However, 24 years of peacekeeping in the DRC represents an enormous investment in resources and lives, and we must build on these investments. I look forward to hearing more from the UN Secretariat, MONUSCO, and the DRC on how to ensure the protection of civilians before, during, and most importantly – after MONUSCO’s departure,” she said.

However, Thomas-Greenfield stated the United States was concerned that DRC and regional security forces are not prepared to meet the security requirements of the Congolese people.

She said the international community must ensure the mission’s withdrawal does not exacerbate the already perilous humanitarian crisis or put additional lives at risk.

The DRC will go to the polls in December but the Tshisekedi regime has increased its heavy handed approach targeting opposition leaders especially Moise Katumbi, President of Ensemble pour la République.

Katumbi’s home was raided shortly after his special advisor, Salomon Kalonda Della, was arrested while his spokesperson person was assassinated by suspected military intelligence officials.

A parliamentarian Mike Mukebayi is also in custody for supporting Katumbi and criticizing Tshisekedi. A former ally of Tshisekedi turned critic Jean Marc Kabundi has been jailed for seven years for allegedly defaming Tshisekedi. Former Prime Minister Augustin Matata Mapon is also facing litigation over a matter that had already been decided in his favor.

Renowned journalist Stanis Bujakera, a correspondent for Reuters and Jeune Afrique, has also been thrown in prison alongside other social activists on trumped up charges.

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