15 May 2017
Responding to an invitation by the leadership of the UDPS of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the SI Secretary General Luis Ayala arrived to Kinshasa on Friday 12 May to convey the Socialist International’s solidarity with the party and family of their deceased leader Etienne Tshisekedi, and to express the support of the organisation for their efforts and those of other political forces engaged in moving forward a transition to democracy in the country. However, agents of the regime were waiting for him at the airport upon arrival to ensure that he would not enter the country and, despite his protests, withheld his passport and forced him back to the aircraft upon which he had arrived. This action by the government of Kabila, which the Socialist International condemns, reflects once more the reality under which the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the political opposition live today.
The situation in the country has gravely deteriorated following recent developments which have seen the government depart from the political agreements signed last December with the main forces of the opposition aimed at finally bringing democracy and peace to Congo.
Key elements of the agreement have not been honoured by President Kabila, such as the formation of an interim government of national unity following the failure to hold elections last year prior to the expiry of his term in office, and his recent appointment of a Prime Minister without the consent of the opposition. The non-observance of the accords and the lack of perspective for progress has had several consequences in an already tense political climate in the country, and has led to the withdrawal of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) as a facilitator for dialogue between the government and the opposition.
In the midst of these political developments, a central issue on the minds of millions of Congolese citizens has been the attitude of the regime following the death in Brussels last February of Etienne Tshisekedi, the much respected leader of the opposition, a former Prime Minister, President of the UDPS, an SI member party, and who was chosen to lead a Council created to oversee the agreements. The government has repeatedly obstructed the repatriation and interment of his remains in Kinshasa, which millions of people have been waiting for in anticipation. Friday 12 May was the third date that had been scheduled for this to happen and subsequently cancelled, following previous attempts in February and March, due to the regime’s obstructions.
The Socialist International, which emphatically deplores the position adopted by the President and his government, will continue to attentively follow political developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to support all those struggling for their freedoms and rights to build a democracy that works for all citizens.