II. Major developments
A. Political situation
The political situation was marked by activities linked to the installation of legislative bodies at the national and provincial level, proceedings before the Constitutional Court and Appeals Court regarding the results of national and provincial legislative elections, protests at the outcome of the presidential election and the initiatives undertaken by President Félix Tshisekedi following his inauguration.
The extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly and most of the provincial assemblies opened on 28 and 30 January, respectively, to validate the mandates of the parliamentarians, to elect provisional bureaux of the assemblies and to vote on the various rules of procedure. Over 1,000 complaints against the results of the legislative elections were pending before the courts as the members of the assemblies were being provisionally installed. The courts are expected to issue their decisions by 23 March.
The co-optation of 65 traditional chiefs into the provincial assemblies, which took place amid claims denouncing the validity of certain candidacies, was guided by relevant provisions of the Constitution and electoral laws. Regarding indirect elections for senatorial, gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial positions, 1,069 candidates had registered as at 13 February and were accepted by the Independent National Electoral Commission to compete for a total of 160 posts (108 senatorial, 26 gubernatorial and 26 vice-gubernatorial posts).
The Independent National Electoral Commission and the Government continued preparations for the holding of delayed elections in Beni city in North Kivu Province and in Yumbi territory in Mai-Ndombe Province by 31 March at the latest, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
In the first days of his presidency, President Tshisekedi displayed his intent to fully exercise his responsibilities as supreme commander of the army and the police. He reiterated his willingness to ameliorate the working conditions of the members of the security and defence forces and to work on matters of national security, which were central themes during his electoral campaign. In that regard, he convoked the Conseil supérieur de la défense, chaired at the ministerial level on 25 January. At a meeting held on 1 February with the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and other high-ranking officers, President Tshisekedi expanded on national security challenges and exhorted FARDC to fulfil its duties according to the constitution. The President’s Chief of Staff, Vital Kamerhe, stated that continuity and collegiality between the security teams of the outgoing and the incoming administrations were necessary to address the country’s security challenges.
From 5 to 8 February, President Tshisekedi made his first official visit abroad since his inauguration, meeting with the Presidents of Angola, Kenya and the Republic of the Congo to discuss issues of mutual interest, notably the strengthening of bilateral partnerships and cooperation agreements. On 10 February, the President attended the thirty-second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, where he reiterated his pledge to work towards the consolidation of peace, the rule of law and democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the Summit, the President was appointed as Second Vice-President of the Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in line with the rotating presidency practices of the African Union. On 26 February, the President travelled to Namibia and met with President Hage Geingob, Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to exchange views on issues of common interest.
Opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who continued to protest the results of the 30 December 2018 presidential election, claiming that he is the legitimate president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, held a political rally on 2 February in Kinshasa calling on the population to participate in peaceful demonstrations across the country to demand that the will of the people as expressed at the polls be respected. On 6 February, he filed a case before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to have his rights and the “truth of the ballot” upheld. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has not, however, ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the establishment of the Court and has yet to make a declaration agreeing that individual citizens may bring cases before the Court. Ahead of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, he sent a letter, dated 8 February, requesting the African Union to create a special committee to verify the results of the presidential election and to consider the possibility of holding fresh elections within six months. Between 15 and 25 February, he held political rallies in several cities across the country, including Butembo, Beni, Goma and Matadi, to protest the outcome of the presidential election. While he continued to denounce the outcome of the elections, dissent emerged among the members of the coalition that had supported him during the electoral process. Some coalition members close to opposition leader Moïse Katumbi took note of the election of President Tshisekedi, describing it as a process marred by irregularities, expressed doubts about the method being pursued by Martin Fayulu. The latter, however, remained determined to have the “truth of the ballot” upheld.
On 17 February, in Kinshasa, former President Joseph Kabila paid a call on President Tshisekedi. The visit took place in the context of ongoing discussions among and within political parties and platforms on finding a ruling majority in the National Assembly and forming a new Government.
From 20 to 24 February, in Kingakati, Kinshasa Province, former President Kabila convened members of the platform Front commun pour le Congo, which had won an absolute majority of the seats in the National Assembly. Members of the Front decided to transform the platform from an electoral coalition into a political group.
On 22 February, in Kinshasa, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Embassy of Belgium concluded an agreement on the modalities for the reopening of the Maison Schengen, the joint consular service of the European Union, which had been shut down by the national authorities in 2018 amid heightened tensions between the Government, Belgium and the European Union over the issue of restrictive measures taken by the Union against some senior Congolese political and military officials. On the same day, the Department of State of the United States of America, stating alleged involvement in significant corruption relating to the electoral process, placed visa restrictions on the outgoing Speaker of the National Assembly, Aubin Minaku; the President of the Constitutional Court, Benoit Lwamba Bindu; and the President of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Corneille Nangaa, the Vice-President of the Commission, Norbert Basengezi Katintima, and the Adviser to the President of the Commission, Marcellin Mukolo Basengezi. On 23 February, the Commission issued a communiqué rejecting the allegations of corruption and stating that a report on the conduct of the electoral process from 2013 to 2019 would be submitted to the National Assembly and published subsequently. The Minister of Information and Spokesperson of the Government, Lambert Mende, called on the Congolese people to be steadfast in the face of what he described as illegal and illegitimate sanctions. Martin Fayulu, for his part, called on the Government of the United States to extend the restrictive measures to those who had orchestrated and benefited from the alleged corruption. A senior member of the Front, André-Alain Atundu, called on the Government to respond firmly and appropriately to the measures with a view to preserving the dignity of the Congolese people.
During the reporting period, my Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and head of MONUSCO, Leila Zerrougui, pursued her good offices with political actors and her mandate to support the political transition process following the 30 December elections.