The African Democracy Forum (ADF) would like to express its profound concern regarding the current political stalemate in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The President of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO), Marcel Utembi Tapa, announced the withdrawal of the Bishops in the mediation talks citing lack of political goodwill and the inability of the political and social actors to arrive at a compromise.
The political agreement signed on the 31st of December 2016 signified that the government and the opposition were determined to consolidate their efforts thus ensuring the violence that had plagued the nation would be brought to a halt. The deal stated that elections would be held by December 2017 with a transitional government put in place by March 2017 comprising of a prime minister from the opposition coalition, Le Rassemblement. It was also agreed that President Joseph Kabila would not contest for a third term and a transitional council would be put in place to implement the agreement.
The talks following the agreement suffered a setback following the untimely death of Étienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party who had been an integral part of the mediation talks and was poised to hold the position of prime minister in the interim government. According to the mediators, the current bone of contention that has brought the talks to a standstill is the mechanism of choosing the interim leader of the transitional government with both negotiating groups seemingly divided on the matter. The announcement of the withdrawal of the mediation team sparked protests in Kinshasa which led to police firing rounds into the air and launching tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators. The Secretary General of UDPS, Jean-Marc Kabund, has since called for a protest march on April 10, 2017 aimed at expressing discontent on the non-application of the accord agreement.
These events have renewed anxiety over the peace and stability in the country as previous protests have led to loss of lives and destruction of property. The African Democracy Forum would like to urge the government and opposition as well as other involved stakeholders to hold fast on the path towards a peaceful resolution of the existing conflict. The mediation process was initiated due to the realization by all parties involved that the status quo was not favorable to the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo and it could potentially lead to more harm and destruction if left unchecked. The steps that have been taken so far have been steps in the right direction and the progress must be carried forward so as to ensure that the country does not retrogress into a state that is more detrimental than beneficial to its citizens. The ADF continues to monitor the situation closely and remains available to support national and regional efforts aimed at resolving the impasse for the mutual benefit of all citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo.