Congo-Kinshasa: Engel Pushes State Department to Address Concerns About DRC Elections

Voters look for their names in the lists during Presidential and Legislative elections in in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (30 December 2018).
press release

Washington, DC — Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today pressed the Trump Administration to address concerns about the recent election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman Engel called on the Secretary to provide the Committee with information on how the Department is working with to ensure that election results are confirmed transparently and according to Congolese laws and regulations so that the new president will have the confidence of the nation. Chairman Engel also pledged to revisit the Democratic Republic of the Congo Democracy and Accountability Act, passed by the House in November 2018, if the situation in the DRC requires.

Full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As you may know, I have followed events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) closely for several years, and had the pleasure of visiting the country as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation in January 2016. This is why I am increasingly concerned by what appears to be an attempt by the Congolese electoral commission, at the orders of President Joseph Kabila, to subvert the will of millions of Congolese voters.

Although the Congolese electoral commission has released provisional results from the presidential and parliamentary polls held on December 30, it has refused to release disaggregated polling center-level data that would provide Congolese citizens with evidence that the votes cast for their preferred candidates matched the results that were reported. With the inauguration of the announced winner of the presidential polls expected later this month, it is critical that a transparent accounting of the results be completed as soon as possible so these results will be accepted as credible.

In your response to this letter, I request a detailed explanation of how the State Department is working with other members of the diplomatic community to ensure that the election results are confirmed transparently and in accordance with Congolese laws and regulations so that the new president will have the confidence of the nation. In addition, I request a detailed explanation of the consequences for any officials from the Congolese government who impede the democratic rights of their citizens, and what the implications of their actions would be for future U.S. engagement with the Congolese government. In the meantime, I also expect that the State Department will provide the Committee with regular updates while we await the confirmation of election results and the inauguration of a new president.

You may recall that in November 2018, the House of Representatives passed the Democratic Republic of the Congo Democracy and Accountability Act. Among other things, this bill would codify Executive Order 13671, which authorizes sanctions against any person determined to have engaged in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although it is my sincere hope that the situation in the DRC does not require Congress to revisit this legislation, I will certainly work with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to update the bill, if necessary.

Over the past few years, I have found it remarkable how the DRC’s civil society has propelled their country to the precipice of what could be the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history. I expect that the United States will not abandon the Congolese people’s desire for democracy and stability at this critical juncture.

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL
Chairman
House Foreign Affairs Committee

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