Report of the Secretary-General on progress in the implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016 (S/2017/712) – Democratic Republic of the Congo

1. The present report covers developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 30 June 2017 and is submitted pursuant to resolution 2348 (2017), in which the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to update it in writing every 45 days on political and technical progress and obstacles to the implementation of the Comprehensive and Inclusive Political Agreement signed on 31 December 2016.

I. Key political developments related to the implementation of the agreement

2. Political tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to rise, amid continuing challenges towards the full implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016, which should guide the country towards the holding of peaceful and credible elections and the conclusion of the political transition period. Against this backdrop, popular dissatisfaction with the political process continues to grow, aggravated by the worsening socioeconomic situation. Moreover, the security situation remains of concern in several areas in the country, in particular in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Kasai region, while security incidents have occurred in Kinshasa and in other main urban centres. The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the signatories of the political agreement have yet to reach consensus on an inclusive way forward for the implementation of the agreement, particularly with respect to establishing conditions conducive to the holding of timely, credible and transparent presidential, national and provincial legislative elections.

3. In a statement on 1 July, my Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo reminded all signatories of the 31 December agreement of their obligation to fully and faithfully implement the agreement. He stressed that the Independent National Electoral Commission has the primary responsibility for the organization of the elections and called upon the Commission to publish, without further delay, an official and consensual electoral calendar. My Special Representative further recalled the importance of the required confidence-building measures for promoting a meaningful consensus. The President of the Commission, Corneille Nangaa, responded on 4 July, through the media, by asserting that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was not mandated to organize elections, but rather to maintain peace.

4. On 7 July, in Paris, during a high-level meeting on the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo held at the initiative of the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF), Corneille Nangaa provided an update on the status of the electoral process, including a suggested set of minimum timelines required for the successful conduct of the process that would make it difficult to comply with the December 2017 deadline.

5. On 13 July, the Minister of Communication and the Media and government spokesperson, Lambert Mende, stated that further assessments of the electoral time frame were the joint prerogative of the National Council for Monitoring the Agreement and the Electoral Process, the Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, in accordance with the agreement of 31 December 2016. On 20 July, the President of the Union pour la nation congolaise, Vital Kamerhe, made similar remarks, stating that the decision to postpone the holding of elections beyond December 2017 could only be taken jointly by the Commission, the Council and the Government, and urged the Commission to publish a detailed electoral calendar. The opposition Rassemblement des forces politiques et sociales de la République démocratique du Congo acquises au changement platform and its member parties made several statements denouncing the remarks made by the President of the Commission, describing it as “a declaration of war against the Congolese people” and calling for “acts of resistance” starting on 22 July. The “acts of resistance” did not, however, materialize.

6. President Joseph Kabila delegated to the Presidents of the two Chambers of Parliament his prerogative to convene the designated members of the National Council for Monitoring the Agreement and the Electoral Process to validate their credentials, discuss the consensual designation of the Council’s President and establish the bureau of the oversight mechanism. On 3 July, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Aubin Minaku, presided over a preliminary meeting of proposed Council members, which was criticized by many opposition parties, including the Union pour la nation congolaise, a signatory of the special arrangement of 27 April, which had set out the process for establishing the Council. On 20 July, the President of the Senate, Léon Kengo wa Dondo, met with most of the proposed Council delegates. That meeting was followed on 22 July by a meeting co-chaired by the presidents of both chambers of Parliament, at which the President of the Forces novatrices pour l’union et la solidarité and leader of the Rassemblement dissident wing, Joseph Olenghankoy, was appointed Chair of the Council. Adolphe Lumanu, of the Presidential majority, and Vital Kamerhe were nominated as vice-presidents of the oversight mechanism, with a third post allocated to the Front pour le respect de la Constitution opposition platform led by the Mouvement de libération du Congo. Vital Kamerhe declined to accept the position of vice-president, arguing that the process to designate members of the Council was not in line with relevant provisions of the 31 December 2016 agreement. On 24 July, the Secretary-General of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Abbott Donatien Nshole, expressed disapproval with regard to the process leading to the appointment of the Chair and members of the Council, citing the lack of sufficient consensus and inclusiveness. On 25 July, the Front pour le respect de la Constitution dissident wing spokesperson, Lumuna Ndubu, accepted the vice-president position previously rejected by Eve Bazaiba, the coordinator of the Front and Secretary-General of the Mouvement de libération du Congo. Also on 25 July, Joseph Olenghankoy chaired the first meeting of the Council, which resulted in the establishment of two commissions responsible for developing, respectively, the rules and regulations and the draft budget of the mechanism.

7. On 17 July, President Kabila appointed the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Operations of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo, Lieutenant-General Dieudonné Amuli, as Commissioner General of the national police, replacing General Charles Bisengimana. Further changes were made to the leadership of security services, in particular the national police, at the national and provincial levels.

8. The Rassemblement convened a conclave on 21 and 22 July. The opposition platform reiterated calls for the implementation of the confidence-building measures foreseen in the political agreement, in particular with regard to the release of political prisoners and restrictions to democratic space, measures to promote the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the publication of the electoral calendar and the holding of the elections by December 2017. The Rassemblement announced a timeline for popular mobilization, including two general strikes, on 5 and 9 August, protests in main cities on 20 August and further actions after 1 October, should the Commission fail by September to convene voters to take part in polls in December 2017. In response, the Minister of Communication and the Media and government spokesperson stated that any attempts to overthrow the Government would be considered a crime against the nation and the State and dealt with as such, in line with the Constitution.

9. On 27 June, the Deputy Secretary-General of the presidential majority, Joseph Kokonyangi, stated that a constitutional referendum could prove an alternative to failed negotiations on the holding of elections. On 11 July, the Union des démocrates socialistes, a party affiliated with the presidential majority, advocated for electoral reforms aimed at modifying the voting system. On 15 July, the youth league of the Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie, the dominant party in the presidential majority, called for a state of emergency to be declared.

10. Political actors expressed varying views regarding a post-December 2017 transition. On 11 July, the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social advocated for a six-month transition during the first half of 2018, without President Kabila in office, should elections not be organized in accordance with the political agreement. On 14 July, the President of the Liberté political party and former Minister of Industry, Germain Kambinga, advocated for an 18-month transition period, subject to a 3-month prorogation in case of force majeure, to be led by President Kabila, with a prime minister from the Union.