October Newsletter: Congolese citizens lead the way to a more just society

Congolese citizens lead the way to a more just society

At a meeting in Paris in August 2017, leaders of Congolese citizens’ movements, civil society organizations and the Catholic Church launched the “Manifesto of the Congolese Citizen,” calling upon all Congolese to protest the failure of the current government to hold to the promises of the 2016 New Year’s Eve agreement and to participate in the creation of a more just society.

(From https://www.hrw.org/blog-feed/democratic-republic-congo-crisis, 8/18/17 blog post by Ida Sawyer, photo taken in Paris, © 2017 Private)

(From https://www.hrw.org/blog-feed/democratic-republic-congo-crisis, 8/18/17 blog post by Ida Sawyer, photo taken in Paris, © 2017 Private)

New Year’s Eve agreement

President Joseph Kabila reached the constitutionally-mandated end of his second term in December 2016.  His refusal to step down triggered protests throughout the country. The Catholic Church mediated an agreement, signed by the government and members of civil society on New Year’s Eve 2016, which promised that in 2017 elections would be held, Joseph Kabila would step down as President, and a transitional government would be installed.

Government crack-down

As 2017 progressed it became clear that the government was not proceeding in good faith with the promises of the New Year’s Eve agreement.  Government officials have responded to civilian protests by arresting protestors, confiscating the photos of journalists and limiting Internet and social media communication in Congo. Most recently, the Congolese government has issued a requirement for a new biometrics passport for all Congolese citizens – effective mid-October.  Most Congolese will not be able to get a new passport in this short period of time and will therefore be unable to travel out of the country – or, if they are currently out – return home.

Manifesto of the Congolese Citizen

The “Manifesto of the Congolese Citizen” calls upon all Congolese to “participate actively in the campaign of peaceful and non-violent actions to bring about a return to constitutional, democratic order…  a new system of governance… built on an independent judiciary, security services who are there to protect our citizens, free expression of our constitutional freedoms, transparent and fair management of all national resources, and strong and democratic institutions that put the interests of the Congolese citizen at the heart of every political initiative.”

For more details on the “Manifesto of the Congolese Citizen” and to read updates on the most recent events, visit Human Rights Watch.