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U.S. says DRC 'stands at a critical juncture,' can only move on with peaceful polls

U.S. says DRC 'stands at a critical juncture,' can only move on with peaceful polls

Democratic Republic of Congo

The United States (U.S.) has reiterated its call for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government to work towards holding historic presidential elections and ensuring the smooth transfer of power.

In a statement issued by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, on the occasion of the DRC’s 57th independence anniversary, the U.S. said the country was at a stage where only polls and power transfer could help deepen gains chalked over the years.

‘‘The Democratic Republic of the Congo stands at a critical juncture, with an opportunity to build on and consolidate the important gains of the past years through an historic peaceful and democratic transfer of power.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo stands at a critical juncture, with an opportunity to build on and consolidate the important gains of the past years through an historic peaceful and democratic transfer of power.

‘‘We wish the Democratic Republic of the Congo success as it strives to build a better future where all Congolese can participate freely in the democratic election of their leaders, benefit from the country’s enormous resource wealth, and work together in building a peaceful and prosperous future,’‘ the statement read.

The DRC was plunged into political crisis last year after the expiration of President Joseph Kabila’s tenure. The inability to organize elections and a court order allowed Kabila to stay on as president till such a time that polls are held.

An African Union (AU) backed political mediation failed before the Congolese Catholic Church managed to strike a deal with the government and the main opposition parties. Under the December 31, 2016 deal, Kabila will hand over power after elections later this year – he could not stand in the said elections.

But Kinshasa is on record to have said that polls were too expensive to organize under the current financial expenditure. The independence celebrations were also canceled citing security concerns.

Clashes between government forces and militia groups continue to claim lives and affect ordinary Congolese most of whom have fled into neighbouring Angola creating a humanitarian situation in the country next door. Others have also been displaced within the country.