LONDON and LOS ANGELES, December 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Restoring SMS communications, investigating extra-judicial killings are key to keeping the peace
In the wake of announced results of what by all accounts was a deeply flawed national election, Falling Whistles and FreeFair DRC call on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to extend the period for electoral challenges, restore communications services for its citizens and fully investigate documented reports of electoral violence.
After several days of delay, Congo's election commission, known as the CENI, said on Friday it had determined that incumbent President Kabila had won the contest. It is incumbent on the Kabila government and the CENI to provide ample time for political challengers to contest the election results as provided in the Congolese constitution. "A single week is hardly enough time for international observers, political parties, and the Catholic Church to review the results and present challenges in court," said Monique Beadle, Advocacy Director of Falling Whistles. "The CENI's failure to meet its publication deadline should automatically trigger an extension of the period for judicial challenges."
Moreover, the Kabila government should demonstrate its adherence to rule of law by reinstating SMS communication systems in the country, which it shut down several days ago. Barring Congolese citizens of their right to communicate is not only a violation of the DRC constitution, it's a hallmark tactic often employed by despotic governments to crush dissent.
"For an election to be deemed free and fair, the government not only must provide verifiable election results but it must allow its citizens to challenge those results,'' said Herman Nzeza FreeFair DRC's representative in Kinshasa. "Given the raft of well-documented irregularities that marred this election process, the government should bend over backward to accommodate those citizens who want to see verified ballot results.''
In addition, Falling Whistles and FreeFair DRC urge the Kabila government to fully investigate, or refer to the International Criminal Court, the many credible reports that Congolese police and soldiers killed scores of opposition supporters during the campaign season and the drawn-out balloting process. "If the perpetrators enjoy impunity for these killings, it will only generate more outrage among the people,'' Mr. Nzeza said. "It's incumbent on the DRC government to investigate these killings in order to head off more violence.''
Falling Whistles is an independent, US-based campaign for peace in Congo. FreeFair DRC is a London-based organization focused on ensuring that DRC elections are conducted with integrity.
SOURCE FreeFair DRC