We are deeply concerned about our brothers and sisters in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Monday, December 19, President Joseph Kabila’s second and final term in office was to end with the inauguration of a democratically elected successor. He is unlikely to step down. Congolese activists are ready to step up and take to the streets. We hope for peace and know that violence is possible. Find out how to support Congolese working for democracy here.
Tensions have been escalating for the past several months as the government has tried to deny and delay the constitutionally required election. In September the government tried to amend the constitution to abolish term limits. This failed. They have not provided funds to the Electoral Commission to organize an election. They say an election before April, 2018 is impossible.
The protests of Congolese citizens to these actions have been met with violence and repression by Congolese security forces. In September, 49 civilian protestors were killed in the streets of Kinshasa.
The United States and the EU have applied targeted sanctions to nine Congolese officials who have played a key role in repression over the last two years. The Congolese Catholic Church (CENCO) has been tasked with mediating the political negotiations between Kabila’s ruling alliance, the Rassemblement (the largest opposition coalition) and civil society. But time is running out. Opposition leaders and pro-democracy activists have called for Congolese to take to the streets if President Kabila stays in office beyond his mandate.
Over the past weeks, the government has shut down many communication systems and has ordered internet providers to shut down Facebook and WhatsAp by midnight on Sunday, December 18. Many, many people have left the country, fearing widespread violence. Find out how to support Congolese working for democracy here.