WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, released the following statement regarding the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“I am extremely disappointed that President Joseph Kabila has decided to remain in office past his constitutional term limit. I urge President Kabila, former Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi, and other opposition and civil society leaders to reach an agreement that establishes a credible plan to hold free and fair elections in 2017, as well as a clear commitment from President Kabila not to further prolong his time in office or amend the constitution.
“The National Episcopal Conference of Congo deserves immense praise for its efforts to mediate an inclusive agreement. The Vatican and Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos also deserve recognition for their support of these negotiations.
“Three months ago, state security forces killed at least 48 people during two days of political demonstrations in Kinshasa. While I join Mr. Tshisekedi in urging demonstrators to remain peaceful, we have already seen reports that at least 26 demonstrators were killed by security forces on Tuesday. I strongly condemn the use of excessive force against demonstrators and call on security forces to respect the freedom of assembly.
“I also call on the U.S. government to launch an investigation into allegations of money laundering linked to members of the Kabila family. The lack of transparency regarding the Kabila family’s business interests undermines democratic accountability in the DRC and heightens political tensions.
“As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I intend to review our bilateral security assistance to the DRC. The United States has made significant investments in the stability and economic prosperity of the DRC, and I have concerns that must be addressed in order for me to continue supporting this assistance.”
This statement was reposted with permission from the office of Senator Coons.