Political violence has ravaged the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent days. Several dozen people have reportedly been killed in protests that erupted September 19th in Kinshasa against the efforts of President Joseph Kabila to remain in power beyond the end of his mandate this December.
“The United States is disappointed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo electoral commission’s (CENI) failure to announce an elections calendar today as called for by the DRC constitution,” said U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, in a statement issued September 19th.
Mr. Kirby said the U.S. condemns all violence and calls upon all Congolese stakeholders to exercise restraint and avoid provocation, while reiterating that the DRC Government has the primary responsibility for protecting human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. These tragic events, he noted, “underscore the need for a truly inclusive dialogue process aimed at reaching consensus on holding presidential elections as soon as technically feasible and guaranteeing the country’s first democratic transition of power.”
In addition, Mr. Kirby stated, “the United States believes that any individuals who are responsible for perpetrating violence or repression should be held accountable, and remains ready to impose additional targeted sanctions.”
The United States continues to work with the DRC government, the political opposition, civil society, and the international community for a resolution that will address the concerns and interests of the Congolese people, who deserve a lasting peace. As a start, the United States government has called upon the DRC government to publicly promise that elections will be held next year, leading to the country’s first democratic transition.