Letter to Secretary of State Blinken Regarding Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
June 17, 2021
The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
United States State Department
2100 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Blinken:
As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace I write to share my growing concern over the disappointing progress towards free and fair elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to share with you the Joint Advocacy Paper entitled Towards Credible Elections in 2023 submitted by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Congo (CENCO) and the Church of Christ of the Congo (ECC).
This Joint Advocacy Paper opens a second phase in CENCO/ECC “Agenda 2023” program designed to bring to bear Church resources to ensure free and fair elections in 2023. CENCO/ECC initiated Phase one of this program in March when they launched the electoral education activities. In April Pastor Eric Nsenga from the ECC visited the United States and our Committee staff arranged meetings with House and Senate international affairs staff and with a State Department official.
Although it might appear very early in the normal electoral cycle, CENCO/ECC are already raising serious concerns about the integrity of electoral preparations.
- The National Assembly just passed a law that gives the majority governing party six seats on the Independent National Electoral Commission, four to opposition parties and five seats to civil society. CENCO/ECC believe that this arrangement cannot protect the Commission from political bias that could threaten the legitimacy of the 2023 elections.
- The Government reacted very negatively to the Church launch of Agenda 2023 even though the Church only reiterated its commitment to help protect the Constitutional stipulations that guarantee free, fair, and peaceful elections.
- CENCO/ECC express concern over the political partisan nature of recent judicial appointments. The courts must protect their neutrality if they are called upon to adjudicate issues coming during the 2023 elections.
- CENCO/ECC are also troubled by the ethnic/nationalist trend called “Congolité” which would exclude any Congolese from high office if their mother or father are not born in the Congo. This program could artificially exclude people from exercising their political rights and could destabilize the electoral process.
CENCO/ECC ask the United States to assist them in setting up their 2023 electoral education program and their electoral monitoring initiative. In 2018 these two programs were very successful and played a crucial role in ensuring that the country held its first peaceful electoral transfer of power from one political party to another. CENCO/ECC also ask the United States to work with them to ensure the DRC Government does not seek to delay electoral reform and that this reform effectively protects the constitutional integrity of the elections.
Our Committee supports the CENCO/ECC recommendations outlined in the Joint Advocacy Paper and calls on the United States to help the DRC consolidate a truly democratic and legitimate electoral process free from internal and external manipulation. Committee staff stand ready to support the Church and you in these important efforts.
Most Reverend David J. Malloy
Bishop of Rockford
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Enclosure: Joint Advocacy Paper Towards Credible Elections in DRC