Congo-Kinshasa: AU Closely Monitoring DRC Crisis

Protests in Kinshasa 19-20 December 2016.

Windhoek — The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, says since many African countries will be holding elections this year the AU will review such electoral processes, in particular the elections to take place in the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Peace and Security Council of the AU, at its 730th meeting, held on November 7, 2017, considered the report of its field mission to the DRC, undertaken from October 22 to 26, 2017, and adopted several decisions therefrom.

One of the decisions taken by the council was to recall the agreements signed by Congolese stakeholders on October 18, 2016 and December 31, 2016, on the organisation of peaceful, credible and transparent elections in the DRC, in order to pave the way for a peaceful solution to the political crisis in the country.

Chergui, who is in the country for a two-day meeting of the AU Panel of the Wise (PoW), spoke to New Era in an interview yesterday on the continuing political violence in the DRC.

"We will review the many elections that will be organised this year. One of the elections we are following closely is the DRC. We have established an institutional panel working on that election which is composed of the AU, SADC, Seychelles and United Nations. We are also working with the government and the electoral commission there to make sure we address all the shortcomings. So, at the end of the day we have a peaceful and credible election on 23rd December this year," Chergui said.

He noted the agenda of the AU PoW is very important as it will map its activities for this year in dealing with issues of prevention and the crises Africa faces. Since June 2015, Kabila has unsuccessfully tried to convene a 'national dialogue' to address a variety of issues, including elections. But most of the opposition parties and civil society organisations are refusing to participate.

Meanwhile, tensions are rising in the resource-rich country.

Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, who is the chairperson of the AU PoW since October last year, said that with so many elections to be held this year on the African continent the advice of the panel would be very much required.

Some of the many general and presidential elections slated for this year on the continent include those in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Libya, Mali, South Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Rwanda and Mauritania.

The PoW delegation accompanied by Pohamba also visited President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday where they briefed him on their roles as the PoW.

Part of their mandate is to advise the AU Council and the chairperson of the AU Commission on all issues pertaining to the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in Africa.

Pohamba said there is a need to set their agenda and raise critical peace and security issues affecting the African continent alongside and in support of the AU Peace and Security Council as well as the chairperson of the commission.

"We must develop ideas and make proposals that contribute to promoting peace, security and stability in Africa to the chairperson of the commission and Peace and Security Council. I count on your individual and collective experience and knowledge in order to strengthen the AU efforts in the prevention, management and resolution of violent conflict," Pohamba said.

Moreover, Pohamba noted that in almost all African countries the rapid growth of youth populations, combined with shrinking economies, has resulted in high levels of unemployment and rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, which are seen by many observers to be correlated to violence.

"Our meeting today is taking place at a crucial time when most of our African countries are faced with manifold challenges as a result of conflicts and insecurity. We need to help the council and the chairperson of the commission to find amicable solutions to these challenges," Pohamba said.

Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba who also attended the meeting said although 99 percent of the African continent has achieved, and is enjoying, political independence, the challenges of maintaining peace and security throughout Africa continues without quick solutions in sight.

"The economic hardships, unemployment especially among the youth population, hunger and poverty, remain our key challenges in Africa," Mbumba said.

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