The United States welcomes the recent signing of a political compromise agreement by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, and opposition party leaders.
By paving the way for peaceful, democratic elections in 2017, this agreement marks an important and historic step for the DRC and the region of Central Africa. The United States commends the willingness of President Joseph Kabila and opposition leaders to compromise on key issues, thereby laying the groundwork for the country’s first democratic transfer of power.
Under the constitution, President Kabila should have left office on December 20 at the end of his second and final mandate. A crisis ensued when he failed to organize elections and step down.
Under the terms of the deal, President Kabila agreed not to seek a third term or change the constitution but will remain in office until the installation of his successor following elections which will be held by the end of December 2017. An oversight council responsible for overseeing implementation of the agreement will be established and headed by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and a prime minister will be named from among the opposition Rassemblement coalition.
The United States also commends the tireless mediating role played by the DRC's Conference of Catholic Bishops leading to this agreement.
Blessed with natural resources but burdened with corruption and political instability, the Democratic Republic of Congo has never witnessed a democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Two decades ago, the country fought some of the deadliest conflicts in modern African history. Wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s dragged in forces from at least six African countries and left more than three million dead. The east of the country remains a battleground for armed conflict between rival militias.
This political agreement provides an opportunity to take the DRC in a new and peaceful direction.
The United States, said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner, “encourage[s] the DRC government and opposition leaders to continue their cooperation as they work to implement this agreement and preserve the progress achieved on behalf of the Congolese people.”