[Margaret Besheer] The top U.N. diplomat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is urging the government to take all necessary measures to ensure national elections happen on time next year and are transparent, credible and inclusive.
In Martin Kobler’s final briefing Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council, he said political tensions were running high ahead of the scheduled November 2016 legislative and presidential elections.
Kobler, whose term as the secretary-general's special representative to the DRC will soon end, warned that human rights violations were increasing, with more than 2,200 recorded violations this year affecting more than 5,000 people. He said state agents committed half of these abuses.
“I am concerned by the increasing number of human rights violations related to the electoral process, particularly violations of freedom of peaceful assembly," he said. "Reducing political space ahead of the elections will undermine the credibility of the electoral process.”
Kobler has overseen the U.N.’s 22,000-member peacekeeping force in Congo since August 2013. His tenure saw the rise and defeat of M23 rebels in the country’s east and continued threats from the Rwandan Hutu rebel group kwown as the FDLR and the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces.
The German diplomat said he was leaving the mission with satisfaction, but also with concern that fragile gains could be reversed.
He urged the government to work with the United Nations on a gradual exit strategy for the peacekeeping mission, saying, “We cannot, and must not, exit hastily.”