Mr Hurd, Minister for International Development, visited the DRC between 3-5 March
During his visit, the Minister made the following statement:
“The United Kingdom is a long-term partner of the Congolese people. We want a strong, stable and prosperous Democratic Republic of Congo. We work in partnership with the government of the DRC to implement its own plans to provide services for the Congolese people, grow the economy to the benefit of all, and bring peace to troubled regions.
DRC has made great progress in the last ten years. Free and fair elections have a critical role in consolidating this progress and building the state in the DRC. They are the ultimate expression of the will of the Congolese people. The Constitution of DRC recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and should be a source of pride for all those who worked to agree and implement it. It is of course the sovereign right of the Congolese people to organise their own elections.
Several technical challenges will need to be overcome before successful elections can take place. However, international experience, including in post-conflict states, demonstrates that, where there is political will, credible elections can be organised within constitutional timeframes. The UK stands ready to support the electoral process in the DRC. To this end, the UK Government has committed up to £11.4 million (around $17 million) to support free and fair elections. Financing from the international community will only be successful if the DRC government and other actors are committed to holding elections.
The UK stands by the words of the UN Security Council Resolution 2211 that Presidential and legislative elections in November 2016 should be a priority. As President Kabila has clearly stated, primary responsibility for creating the necessary conditions for those elections lies with the Government of DRC. However, we note with serious concern that deadlines set out in the electoral calendar of February 2015 have been missed.
We call on the government, the electoral commission and all parties to the DRC electoral process to take the necessary steps without further delay to ensure that elections due under the DRC constitution, in particular the Presidential and legislative elections, take place as planned. In this context, we reiterate the importance of the independence of the electoral commission.
In addition, we call on the government to ensure that political freedoms, freedom of media and speech, and human rights are respected. Repression of these freedoms has exacerbated tensions and fed the violence in neighbouring Burundi. The African Union has a key role to play and we stand ready to support their efforts to facilitate an inclusive and timely dialogue to ensure successful elections within the constitutional mandate. We encourage all political actors to engage with its representative Edem Kodjo.”