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UN warns of ’large-scale violence’ in Congo crisis

The United Nation’s top official to the Democratic Republic of Congo says the country has entered a period of extreme risk to its stability.

Addressing the Security Council, the head of the UN Mission to that country (Monusco) warned that the electoral crisis had become a constitutional crisis with deepening political polarization with no immediate resolution in sight.

It has become a question of whether President Joseph Kabila remains in office beyond the end his second and final term on December 19th with the UN’s Maman Sambo Sidikou warning of extreme risks to stability.

“Actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends, while the space for constructive political activity has shrunk still further. If this trajectory continues, I believe large-scale violence is all but inevitable. And while Monusco will do everything it can within its mandate to protect civilians, the scope of the threats dramatically outstrip the Mission’s capabilities,” says Sidikou.

A likely delay in elections, later confirmed by the country’s electoral mission until December 2018, triggered serious violence that, according to the UN, left at least 49 people dead, including 38 by gunshot, others burned alive or killed by machete.

The UN mission says its investigations have documented involvement of both state and non-state actors, including arbitrary arrests by law enforcement.

The Secretary General’s Special Representative called for parties to re-engage in a political dialogue launched by President Kabila in September.

“The only solution is for the parties to re-engage in an inclusive process that charts a peaceful path forward for the country. I have remained actively engaged with all of the national, regional and international stakeholders, and I believe there is a chance for the key parties to come together in a credible, inclusive manner. However, they will not do so without strong engagement by all of us, including this Council.”

He urged the Council to pressure the Government to undertake confidence-building measures and for regional organisations including the AU and SADC to designate a high level emissary to help bridge the political divide.

“I hope this Council will speak collectively and individually to reinforce the following key messages: The “Rassemblement” of opposition and other key stakeholders currently boycotting should be encouraged to return to the dialogue process. The Government should be encouraged to undertake direct confidence-building measures with the opposition, including steps to ensure the rights of peaceful political activity are preserved and direct engagement between President Kabila and the leadership of the “Rassemblement” namely Veteran Congolese opposition leader, Mr Etienne Tshisekedi.”

Sidikou also warned that there should be no impunity for any actor perpetrating political violence.


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