Agreement reached on DRC roadmap – Zuma

SADC chair and South African President Jacob Zuma says an agreement has been reached regarding the roadmap that will lead to the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, no details were made available including a date the elections will be held. President Zuma met the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa who updated him about the electoral process.

The 37th SADC summit called on the DRC to come up with a clear programme regarding the country’s elections.

This, following accusations that it had not gone far enough to ensure that elections were held speedily.

President Kabila provided an update on the progress so far.

After his meeting with President Kabila, the SADC chair expressed confidence in the outcome of the talks, but did not reveal the date agreed upon.

In light of the political and security dynamics, it is believed SADC has approved the appointment former Namibia President Hifikepunye Pohamba as special envoy to the DRC.

SADC also called on the international community to withdraw the sanctions against the DRC.

Meanwhile, the DRC was among 15 countries elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three-year term on Monday, a moved criticized by Britain, the United States and rights groups after the vote by the 193-member General Assembly.

While DRC was elected uncontested to the 47-member Geneva-based council, it still needed majority support. The country – beset by renewed political and militia violence since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down in December – won 151 votes.

“Political repression, civilian attacks, mass graves. What happened in DRC last year makes their election to the Human Rights council entirely disappointing,” British UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft posted on Twitter.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has called for the Human Rights Council votes to be competitive, said the DRC’s election harmed the credibility of the body.

“Countries that aggressively violate human rights at home should not be in a position to guard the human rights of others,” Haley said in a statement.

The United States is reviewing its membership in the council. It is in the first year of a second term, but US President Donald Trump’s administration has called for reforms to eliminate what it called its “chronic anti-Israel bias”.

Angola, Senegal, Slovakia, Ukraine, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Australia and Spain were also elected to the body, while Nigeria and Qatar won second terms. Their terms start on January 1, 2018.

To ensure geographical representation, states are nominated in five regional categories. Four slates were uncontested, while there were five candidates for four Asia Pacific seats in which Malaysia lost.

Council members cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. The council is able to rebuke governments it deems as violating human rights and to order investigations.

The violence in eastern and central Congo has displaced over 1.5 million in the past year and revived fears of civil war in a country where conflicts from 1996-2003 resulted in millions of deaths and spawned dozens of armed groups that prey on local populations and exploit natural resources.  – TST Reporter/Reuters.

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