The European Union (EU) “stands ready to support the electoral process” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “in consultation with the Congolese actors involved,” a spokesperson of the European External Action Service said on Thursday. Over the past few days, Kinshasa has been stressing its intention to keep “special envoys” and other “observers” far from the elections.
In July, incumbent President Joseph Kabila said the electoral process would be “entirely financed by the Congolese State” to free it of “the contingencies of external financing and, consequently, blackmail of all types”.
Since then, the Congolese authorities have rejected many offers of assistance from international organizations and neighbouring countries. Last week Kinshasa rejected the appointment of former South African president Thabo Mbeki as special envoy to the DRC.
“I can tell you that there will be no more special envoys to the DRC, not even Thabo Mbeki,” the president’s diplomatic adviser, Barnabé Kikaya Bin Karubi, said at the time.
These envoys “tend to behave like proconsuls. They do not respect the independence of the DRC. We wish to assert our sovereignty”, the Minister of Communication and Medias, Lambert Mende Omalanga, said.
A few days earlier, the Electoral Commission had indicated that it would do without the planes and helicopters of the United Nations Mission in Congo, Monusco, for the deployment of its voting machines throughout the country”. There are some 40 million persons registered for the elections in the DRC, which has an area of 2.3 million km2.
In this context, the hand offered on Thursday by the EU could well be rejected in the Congolese capital. The sending of a possible mission of election observers from the African Union and the European Union thus seems “complicated”.
“We evidently would like to see European Union observation, but for that an invitation is needed from Kinshasa,” a diplomat said recently. “Given the current climate, that seems unlikely to me.”