A UN envoy has expressed concern over the political, security and humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite progress in the electoral process.
Briefing the Security Council, Leila Zerrougui, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, reported that “notable progress” had been made in the past weeks in the preparations for presidential and legislative elections, including the completion of voter registration.
More than 46 million potential voters, 47 percent of them women, have been registered for Dec. 23 elections, she told the council.
However, she warned that major challenges remain in the country. It is important to establish confidence of parties in the Dec. 31, 2016 political agreement with regard to the political process and to the electoral process, she said.
The political agreement allowed President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, to stay on after his term of office expired, on the condition that elections would be held within 2017. But elections were delayed on the grounds of logistic difficulties. On Nov. 5, 2017, the country’s electoral commission published an electoral calendar for the combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections for Dec. 23, 2018.
“A failure to generate confidence in the full and faithful implementation of the Dec. 31 agreement will only serve to heighten political tensions, and to fuel the risks of inciting violence for political ends, particularly within the context of renewed and increased armed group activities,” she warned.
She also voiced concern over the disproportionate use of force by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators, and over the country’s security and humanitarian situation.
The security situation has continued to deteriorate, bringing increased risks for renewed instability in many parts of the country and posing serious threats to the civilian population, she said.
More than 7.7 million people face severe food insecurity throughout the country and more than two million children are severely malnourished, she said.