Almost a month has gone by since the conclusion of the New Year’s agreement facilitated by the Congolese National Episcopal Conference (CENCO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders wishes to underline the importance of this agreement, as testified by the significant popular appeasement that has occurred since last December 31st. He is therefore worried by the communiqué sent out by CENCO that observes blockages in the negotiations of ‘Special Arrangements’.
The Minister supports the appeal by CENCO for responsibility and a sense of compromise to achieve the finalization by the end of this month of these Arrangements, as stipulated in the agreement. This should allow for the rapid installation of the Government and the Agreement follow-up National Council as well as the launch of the electoral process due to conclude in 2017.
Didier Reynders calls for respect of the New Year’s agreement, including the elements that concern measures to reduce tensions. Belgium is particularly worried about the insufficient progress concerning the liberation of prisoners of conscience and the lifting of obstructions for the functioning of media and civil society. The judicial procedures concerning several political figures, the continued detention of members of citizens movements and the recent refoulement of the Human Rights Watch representative illustrate the absence of sufficient progress in this field.
Belgium continues to monitor the situation very closely. Following CENCO’s request for an international accompaniment of the process, Belgium will continue to work for a strong engagement by the international community.