Brussels, 22/01/2015

Statement of the International Envoys to the Great Lakes Region on the Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Team of International Envoys for the Great Lakes region express their deep concern about recent violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They further express their deepest condolences to the families of the victims. The Envoys call on the Government to exercise restraint, to maintain open political space and allow for peaceful expression of opinion.  The Envoys condemn any use of force against peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and arbitrary arrests.  The Envoys further note that all citizens, including demonstrators and their leaders, have a responsibility to pursue political objectives by non-violent means in conformity with relevant national laws. The Envoys deplore the loss of lives, destruction of property and acts of looting, which should be prosecuted appropriately. The Envoys are also concerned by reports that the DRC government restricted internet sites and ordered text messaging services, and radio stations to be shut down.  ‎They emphasize that freedom of communication and expression are essential rights in a democracy and should not be curtailed. The Envoys appeal to the DRC Government to address the underlying causes of the unrest by ensuring that all electoral laws respect relevant provisions of the Constitution. They reiterate their support for a credible, timely, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process and encourage the government to finalize an electoral calendar that includes national elections within the timeframe provided by the Constitution. In this regard, the Envoys encourage the Government, the opposition, as well as civil society to avail themselves of the good offices of the UN in facilitating an inclusive and transparent dialogue between all stakeholders as per provisions of relevant Security Council resolutions.

The Team of International Envoys, are comprised of UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Said Djinnit, UN Special Representative and Head of MONUSCO Martin Kobler, AU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Boubacar Diarra, EU Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Koen Vervaeke, US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the DRC Russell D. Feingold and Belgium Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Frank de Coninck.