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DRC: Call for Calm and Respect for Human Rights

Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 16, 2016

The United States is deeply concerned about the potential for unrest and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on or around December 19, when President Joseph Kabila's second and final term in office was to end with the inauguration of a democratically elected successor. We urge both the government and opposition to cooperate fully and in good faith with the DRC's Conference of Catholic Bishops (CENCO) to finalize an inclusive agreement as soon as possible on the holding of elections, parameters for an interim government, and a peaceful transfer of power. We further urge the DRC government and opposition parties to refrain from any actions or statements that could incite violence or unlawful activity in the coming days and weeks.

The United States strongly supports the right of peaceful assembly. Violent repression of peaceful protests or assemblies, or violence by the opposition, is inconsistent with democratic norms and the rule of law, endangers the lives of countless civilians and DRC security force members, and undermines efforts to reach a negotiated political agreement. The DRC government must respect human rights. Those who lead DRC security forces are responsible for the conduct of their officers and personnel, and must ensure that their actions remain consistent with the rule of law. We similarly call on any opposition and civil society leaders who may intend to organize protests to take all possible steps to ensure that participants remain nonviolent. Individuals who engage in repression or perpetrate unlawful violence must be held accountable.

At this critical moment in Congo's history, we call on opposition party leaders, civil society representatives, ruling coalition officials, and leaders of the DRC government to renew their commitment to nonviolence and redouble their efforts to reach an inclusive agreement acceptable to all sides.

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