UN pushes DR Congo to abide by deal on elections

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – The UN Security Council on Wednesday warned that the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region could face further turmoil unless a political deal reached six months ago to pave the way to elections is implemented.

Under the agreement reached on New Year’s Eve, elections are to be held this year in the large mineral-rich African country that would be the DR Congo’s first democratic transition.

Concerns are growing however that the deal is unraveling after the head of the electoral commission said this month that the vote will likely not be held this year.

In a unanimous statement drafted by France, the council warned that “unless political actors demonstrate renewed good faith and political will to deliver on the promises they made to their people on New Year’s Eve 2016, the DRC and the wider region are set to face an increased risk of insecurity and instability.”

The Congolese opposition is planning a nationwide strike on August 8 and rallies on August 20 to push President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, to step aside and allow elections to take place.

Opposition leaders said at the weekend that Kabila must agree by the end of September to an election date or else they will no longer recognize him as president as of October 1.

In the statement, the council stressed the “urgency of swift implementation” in order to organize “peaceful, credible inclusive and timely elections, no later than December 2017” and achieve a peaceful transfer of power.

Council members also said they were ready to “act accordingly regarding all Congolese actors whose actions and statements impede the implementation of the agreement and the organization of elections.”

At a council meeting earlier this month, the United States demanded that the electoral commission immediately publish an electoral calendar and specifically a date for the presidential vote.

Washington threatened unilateral sanctions and said the Security Council should consider imposing measures to pile pressure on all sides over the elections delay.

The council also condemned violence in the Kasai region, where UN officials say they have uncovered dozens of mass graves and two UN experts were killed while investigating the killings.

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