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Booker, Coons Statement On Congolese Election

January 25, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Coons (D-DE), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the below statement on the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):

“We acknowledge the Congolese Constitutional Court’s ruling that Felix Tshisekedi will be the next President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We commend and congratulate the millions of Congolese that demonstrated their unwavering desire to uphold the Constitution and take part in building their country’s democracy. While the results of the election were contested and litigated, what has been made clear is that Congolese stood up to arrest, torture, and intimidation to protest and ultimately block the government’s attempts to upend the Constitution. This citizen participation may be the most consequential outcome of this election.

“We continue to be concerned by the egregious electoral irregularities, including an electoral commission that refused to provide a transparent accounting of the results, failed to implement voter registry reforms advocated by impartial observers, imposed restrictions on opposition rallies and movement including during the campaign period, and barred four districts from participating in the presidential election. In addition, the government’s efforts to block information to millions of Congolese people by shutting down the internet and SMS text-messaging, and cutting off poplar radio news channels, further obfuscated the electoral process.”

“After nearly 18 years in power, we recognize outgoing President Kabila’s intention to become the first President in the history of the DRC to peacefully transfer power. The path to democracy is often a non-linear, tumultuous journey that does not begin or end with elections. We urge the Tshisekedi administration to address increasing levels of insecurity in Congo’s eastern provinces, hold those security forces that attacked peaceful protestors accountable, prosecute those that attempted to undermine the elections, institute greater transparency in the mining sector, and ensure that the Ebola outbreak is contained and eliminated.”