‘Manifesto of the Congolese Citizen’ Calls for a Transition without Kabila
Today, about 40 leaders of citizens’ movements, civil society organizations, Catholic Church representatives, and other independent Congolese leaders launched the “Manifesto of the Congolese Citizen,” following a three-day meeting in Paris to discuss the “return of constitutional order” to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The two-page document makes the case that President Joseph Kabila has violated the country’s constitution by using “force and financial corruption” to stay in power and “entrench his regime of depredation, pauperization, and the pillaging of the country’s resources for the benefit of himself, his family, his sycophants, and his foreign allies in Africa and beyond.”
It further states that Kabila and a “group of individuals” have “deliberately refused to organize elections,” in defiance of the constitution’s two-term presidential term limit and the Catholic-Church mediated New Year’s Eve agreement, a power-sharing deal calling for elections to be held by December 2017. In doing so, “zones of insecurity” and “deadly tragedies” have emerged across the country, “as part of a clear objective” to declare a “state of emergency” and delay elections, while “terror has once again become the preferred method of government, making it impossible for the Congolese people to claim their rights,” according to the document.
The manifesto calls on the Congolese people “to perform their sacred duty, using peaceful and non-violent means, to thwart President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to remain in power after December 31, 2017, in application of Article 64 of the constitution.” It “demands the resignation” of Kabila and calls for a “citizens’ transition” whose primary objective would be the organization of credible elections, and which would be led by leaders who could not be candidates in the future elections and who would be appointed after national consultations.
The document also called for the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners and the reopening of media outlets, and for security forces to “protect” citizens and not allow themselves to be “used as instruments of repression.”
“All citizens of Congo” are called upon to “adhere massively” to the manifesto, and to “participate actively in the campaign of peaceful and non-violent actions to bring about a return to constitutional, democratic order.”
Finally, the document calls for a “new system of governance … built on an independent judiciary, security services who are there to protect our citizens, free expression of our constitutional freedoms, transparent and fair management of all national resources, and strong and democratic institutions that put the interests of the Congolese citizen at the heart of every political initiative.”
The participants at the Paris meeting, which was initiated by the Institute for Democracy, Governance, Peace, and Development in Africa, also worked to develop an “action plan” for peaceful mobilization.