In a little more than a year, the Congolese will be called to the polls. To this end, the report "Elections in 2023 in the DRC: rectifying past mistakes to consolidate democracy" aims to establish an inventory of the pre-electoral situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It examines the issues and challenges in relation to the current electoral process and proposes courses of action for the European Union (EU) and its member states in order to contribute to the pacification of the electoral climate, the mitigation of the potential for fraudulent elections and the prevention of post-electoral violence that could ignite the entire Great Lakes region.
The report reviews the available literature on the past and current socio-political situation in the DRC and is enriched by data collected through interviews and questionnaires with stakeholders, including religious groups, civil society, opposition and majority political actors, the election management body, some UN agencies and diplomatic missions accredited to the DRC.
The report shows that the elections expected to take place at the end of 2023 are taking place in a political and social context characterized by a lack of consensus among the stakeholders, the lack of motivation of citizens with respect to the electoral process, the fragility of the party system following the reshuffling of the parliamentary majority, and many other observations. Several concerns have also emerged, including the desire of the government to control the electoral body. The battles over the appointment of CENI's leaders are an eloquent example of this. All of these issues and concerns are part of a general climate of insecurity in the east of the country, the rise of tribal cleavages and hate speech, which raise fears of violent post-election protests.
The report questions whether such a context could affect the smooth running of the elections, justify a postponement or exclusion of certain regions in the east of the country, or justify future disruptions of peaceful demonstrations or opposition rallies during the election campaign.
The report also analyzes the extent to which the 2023 elections can be a decisive step in breaking with the mistakes of the past to consolidate democracy in the DRC. As such, it aims to mobilize the EU and its member states to take a clear position on the current electoral process еn establishing clear red lines that the electoral process must not cross.
In parallel, the EU and its member states should maintain or expand a number of provisions such as
- Continue to encourage Congolese political institutions to respect their obligations to organize free, transparent, credible and peaceful elections;
- Adopt the "Team Europe" approach, coordinating in advance on financial support to the electoral process, the key actors, and their joint response to the different possible scenarios of the electoral situation before, during and after the polls
- Strengthen their support for Congolese civil society in its crucial threefold role of (1) ongoing civic education; (2) defense of human rights and civil liberties; and (3) more specific monitoring of election preparations.
This report was published by the European Network for Central Africa (EurAc), of which Tournons La Page is a member.