Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Alain Aimé Nyamitwe, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi

The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Alain Aimé Nyamitwe, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi. The Secretary-General took note of the confidence-building measures announced by the Government of Burundi during his recent visit to the country and looked forward to their full implementation. He encouraged the Government to redouble its efforts to find a political solution to the current crisis through an inclusive dialogue. The Secretary-General urged the Government to protect the lives of all civilians and ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable.

The Secretary-General and the Minister exchanged views on the facilitation led by the Eastern African Community (EAC). They discussed ways to enhance cooperation between Burundi, the EAC, the African Union, and the United Nations.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Source:: Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Alain Aimé Nyamitwe, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi

Categories: AFRICA

President Mohamud condemns Brussels terror attacks

The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, HE Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, condemned the Daesh-perpetrated attacks in Brussels today.

“We join the world in condemning the brutal attacks of civilians in Brussels. We grieve with those who have lost loved ones. We pray for the families affected. Our thoughts are with the Belgium government as it seeks to provide support to its people.

“Daesh murdered more than innocent people today. It also killed any illusions that it is intent on doing anything other than wreaking havoc and destruction across the world. We condemn its barbaric acts of terrorism. Somalia stands by to offer any support needed,” the President said.

The President added that terrorism is a global threat, requiring collective responsibility, adding that Somalia – as it is a country hit by terror acts – continues to work closely with the international community to eradicate extremist groups.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Federal Republic of Somalia – Office of the President.

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The 582nd meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on the AU Peace Fund

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 582nd meeting held on 14 March 2016, was briefed by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui on the AU Peace Fund, as well as by the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, on his activities.

Council took note of the comprehensive briefing given by the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, in particular, his consultations with key partners with regard to the AU’s proposals that AU-led peace support operations be financed from United Nations (UN) assessed contributions, since these missions are undertaken within the framework of the UN Charter, in which the UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, while the role of regional arrangements is also recognized.

Council congratulated Dr. Kaberuka on his appointment as the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, tasked with assisting the AU to meet its financial commitments to peace and security, develop a roadmap for sustainable funding for AU-led peace support operations, mobilize funds to the Peace Fund and to also act as an important interlocutor with international partners on the proposal that UN assessed contributions be provided to finance AU-led peace support operations. Encouraging him to persevere in discharging his responsibilities, Council pledged its full support to his efforts.

Council underscored the imperative need for all Member States to extend their full cooperation to Dr. Kaberuka, in order to ensure the success of his efforts. In this context, Council recalled decision Assembly/AU/Dec. 561(XXXIV) on alternative sources of funding, adopted at the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held from 14 to 15 June 2015, in Johannesburg, South Africa, regarding the need for Member States to enhance ownership of the budget of the Union by financing 100% of the operating budget, 75% of the programme budget, and 25% of the peace and security budget, to be phased in incrementally over a five-year period. In this respect, Council urged all Member States to fully honour their commitments.

Underlining the close linkages between peace, security and development, Council strongly appealed to all Member States to extend their full support to Dr. Kaberuka during the course of his consultations at the highest level within Africa, as part of the overall African efforts to silence the guns by 2020.

Council called on the UN to respond positively to its call for financing of AU-led peace support operations from UN assessed contributions, and urged African members of the UN Security Council to promote this agenda vigorously.

Council looked forward to the finalization of the AU Peace Fund roadmap, which would include modalities for the realization of the AU’s contribution of 25% of the cost of AU-led peace support operations, and its submission to the Assembly of the Union at its next Ordinary Session in June-July 2016, before submission to the 71st UN General Assembly in September 2016.

Council agreed to remain actively seized of the matter.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: The 582nd meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on the AU Peace Fund

Categories: AFRICA

The African Union strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium

The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, strongly condemns the despicable attacks at the Zaventem airport and the central metro station in Brussels, claiming dozens of lives of innocent civilians and leaving scores wounded.

The Chairperson of the Commission expresses the African Union’s solidarity with the Government and people of Belgium, offers her condolences to the bereaved families and wishes speedy recovery to the wounded.

The Chairperson of the Commission reaffirms the AU’s strong rejection of all acts of terrorism and violent extremism by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes. She reiterates the AU’s commitment to continue working with Belgium, and the other members of the European Union, and the international community at large, in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. In this regard, she stresses the need for enhanced international cooperation within the framework of the relevant AU and international counter-terrorism instruments.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: The African Union strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Mufti of Egypt condemns Brussels terror attacks in debate with MEPs

Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam strongly condemned the 22 March terrorist attacks in Brussels and talked about his work challenging extremist propaganda in an exchange of views with Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. They praised his efforts, but called for more dialogue within Islam and for the rule of law to be strengthened in Egypt.

In his opening remarks Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) emphasized that terrorist attacks must not stop dialogue and cooperation between Egypt and the West and reminded the audience that globally the majority of the victims of terror were Muslims.

Shawki Allam, who is seen as Egypt’s primary source of religious authority, expressed his solidarity with the victims’ friends and families and said that such heinous acts can never be justified by religion.

“Terrorism knows no borders and is a plague on all of us. We must work hand in hand to dismantle terrorism. Dialogues like this one are a step in the right direction”, he said, stressing that “words must translate into actions.”

The Grand Mufti explained that he had set up a specialist centre to challenge extremist views on websites and the social media by providing an authentic interpretation of Islam. This unit of experts publishes an e-newspaper, videos in 10 languages and interacts on Facebook with young people who are at the core of this struggle.

“Correct education is the right answer to ignorance and extremism”, he affirmed, noting that the Egyptian government had declared 2016 the “year of youth” to help fulfill the dreams of a young generation.

While MEPs praised these efforts, some observed that an effective internal dialogue within the main branches of Islam would also be essential in tackling extremism. Others highlighted the need to strengthen the rule of law in Egypt, and especially the separation of powers, because, in their view, only a truly democratic country is able to offer prospects to young people. MEPs also voiced concerns about hasty death sentences and other grave human rights violations in Egypt’s judiciary and prisons, pointing out that “we cannot fight terrorism with terrorism.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of European Parliament.

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Source:: Grand Mufti of Egypt condemns Brussels terror attacks in debate with MEPs

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German Government concerned about repression against Egyptian human rights organisations

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement in Berlin today (22 March) on measures against human rights organisations by the Egyptian authorities:

We are following the latest travel bans, bank account freezes and investigations against human rights activists and organisations in Egypt with great concern. These steps not only contravene international human rights standards, but also the Egyptian Constitution.

Respect for human rights and a free civil society are a prerequisite for sustainable stability. We call on the Egyptian Government to create conditions in which human rights groups can do their work unhindered – work that is important for the country.

Background information:

In recent weeks, human rights organisations in Egypt have been targeted by state repression and investigations on an unprecedented scale.

In the past few days, organisations including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Nazra for Feminist Studies and the El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, and well-known activists such as Gamal Eid and Hossam Bahgat, have had their bank accounts frozen and been banned from leaving the country.

A counter-terrorism law adopted in 2015 lays down heavy penalties, including life imprisonment, for “harmful acts against the national interest or acts that destabilise the general peace, independence or unity of Egypt” and stipulates strict approval regulations for operating an “organisation with an international range” and “accepting funding from abroad”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Germany – Federal Foreign Office.

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Source:: German Government concerned about repression against Egyptian human rights organisations

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German Government concerned about repression against Egyptian human rights organisations

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement in Berlin today (22 March) on measures against human rights organisations by the Egyptian authorities:

We are following the latest travel bans, bank account freezes and investigations against human rights activists and organisations in Egypt with great concern. These steps not only contravene international human rights standards, but also the Egyptian Constitution.

Respect for human rights and a free civil society are a prerequisite for sustainable stability. We call on the Egyptian Government to create conditions in which human rights groups can do their work unhindered – work that is important for the country.

Background information:

In recent weeks, human rights organisations in Egypt have been targeted by state repression and investigations on an unprecedented scale.

In the past few days, organisations including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Nazra for Feminist Studies and the El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, and well-known activists such as Gamal Eid and Hossam Bahgat, have had their bank accounts frozen and been banned from leaving the country.

A counter-terrorism law adopted in 2015 lays down heavy penalties, including life imprisonment, for “harmful acts against the national interest or acts that destabilise the general peace, independence or unity of Egypt” and stipulates strict approval regulations for operating an “organisation with an international range” and “accepting funding from abroad”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Germany – Federal Foreign Office.

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Source:: German Government concerned about repression against Egyptian human rights organisations

Foreign Office minister statement on human rights in Egypt

Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said:

I am deeply concerned by growing restrictions on civil society in Egypt, including reports that the Egyptian authorities have reopened a case against a number of Egyptian human rights organisations. A strong, successful Egypt built on the rule of law and with open political processes is important to us all.

Egypt has committed to allowing civil society organisations to engage in activities freely in its 2014 constitution. Restrictions and sanctions run counter to this and undermine international confidence in Egypt’s political transition.

I encourage the government of Egypt to work with civil society organisations to implement the rights guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and allow non-governmental organisations to operate freely.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Source:: Foreign Office minister statement on human rights in Egypt

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The government and people of the Federal Republic of Somalia strongly and unequivocally condemns the heinous and violent acts of terrorism in Brussels, Belgium, today.

The fact that the terrorist would target innocent civilians in such a brutal and unforgivable manner is the greatest sign of their inhumanity and moral bankruptcy. Any violence against innocent civilians aimed at terrorizing them and their nation is deplorable and wholly evil.

The government of Somalia is working hard to tackle terrorism within our borders and wider region. Terrorism is a global threat that has deeply affected the citizens of both Somalia and Belgium. We therefore stand in solidarity with the People and Government of Belgium. We mourn with them and share their deep loss in this dark hour.

Our heartfelt condolences is extended to the families, friends and loved ones of all the innocent victims who were affected by this evil tragedy.

Instead of weakening and frightening the Belgian Government and People, the senseless and violent terrorist attacks will only unite and strengthen the world’s response to the great crime of terrorism.

The government of the Federal Republic of Somalia enjoys strong bilateral ties with the Belgium and we endeavor to advance this through further cooperation in all areas of common interest, including security.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Federal Republic of Somalia – Office of the President.

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Source:: The government and people of the Federal Republic of Somalia strongly and unequivocally condemns the heinous and violent acts of terrorism in Brussels, Belgium, today.

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IMF Executive Board Concludes Regional Consultation with West African Economic and Monetary Union

On March 21, 2016, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the annual Discussion on Common Policies of Member Countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).[1]

Despite the fragile security situation in some member countries and a less favorable external environment in 2015, economic growth exceeded 6 percent for the second consecutive year, driven by ongoing infrastructure investments, solid private consumption, and favorable agricultural campaigns. Inflation has remained subdued around 1 percent in 2015, reflecting the exchange rate anchor and positive terms of trade developments. Monetary policy has remained accommodative, with the key policy rate unchanged at 2.5 percent since September 2013, and private sector credit grew by nearly 14 percent in 2015.

The overall budget deficit (including grants) increased to 4.8 percent of GDP in 2014, up from 3.3 percent in 2013, largely driven by ongoing large public investment programs to address countries’ infrastructure gaps. This deterioration increases public debt for the region to 44.7 percent of GDP in 2015 from 38.9 percent in 2014.

The drop in oil prices has lightened the energy bills for all WAEMU countries while cocoa and groundnut prices have remained buoyant, thereby improving the trade balance, notably of Cote d’Ivoire, the largest economy in the region. However, the surge of imports associated with public investment and private consumption has partly offset the impact of lower energy bills. As a result, in 2015 the region’s overall current account deficit reached 5.6 percent of regional GDP, compared with 6.1 percent in previous year, and gross international reserves rose to 5 months of imports from 4.7 months in 2014.

The medium-term growth outlook remains positive but entails significant downside risks. Growth should remain above 6 percent, owing to continued strong domestic demand, while inflation is expected to remain subdued. The overall fiscal deficit should gradually decrease while total public debt is projected to stabilize at moderate levels (about 40 percent of GDP). In the short term, security risks remain high. In the medium term, weaker trading partner growth, tighter global financial conditions, sluggish implementation of structural reforms, and difficulties delivering on the planned fiscal consolidation could weaken growth prospects.

Executive Board Assessment[2]

Executive Directors welcomed the region’s continued strong growth performance despite the fragile security situation in some member countries and a less favorable external environment. Noting the risks to the outlook, Directors encouraged the authorities to safeguard macroeconomic and financial stability by implementing prudent and well-coordinated national fiscal policies and regional monetary policy. Strong resolve to move ahead with the much-needed structural reforms would help achieve higher and more inclusive growth.

Directors underscored that pursuing fiscal consolidation plans, while expanding space for development needs, is critical to preserve macroeconomic stability and support growth. In this regard, they encouraged the WAEMU Commission to help member countries move decisively on fiscal reforms. Directors encouraged the authorities to increase domestic revenue by broadening the tax base and strengthening tax administration, and rationalize current spending, particularly the wage bill. They also called for measures to improve public financial management and the quality of spending, and reforms to increase public investment efficiency. In addition, Directors emphasized the importance of further strengthening debt management.

Directors highlighted the need for enhancing monetary policy effectiveness. They viewed the benign inflation outlook and favorable macroeconomic environment as an opportunity to focus on reforms to further improve liquidity management, deepen financial markets, and strengthen market-based operations.

Directors commended the authorities for the significant reform efforts to modernize the financial sector and strengthen banking supervision. Underlining that financial stability, deepening, and inclusion are essential for growth, Directors encouraged the authorities to speed up the reform agenda, particularly the implementation of Basel II and Basel III, strengthen risk-based supervision, align prudential limits with international standards and best practices, enforce existing prudential rules to reduce NPLs, and avoid regulatory forbearance. Directors also encouraged adoption and implementation of the regional financial inclusion strategy.

Directors emphasized that accelerating the pace of structural reforms aimed at boosting competitiveness and diversification will be key to sustaining the growth momentum and reducing poverty. They particularly highlighted the need for improving the business climate and addressing income and gender inequalities.

The views expressed by Executive Directors will form part of the Article IV consultations with individual member countries that take place until the next Board discussion of WAEMU common policies.

[1] Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board.

[2] At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Executive Board Concludes Regional Consultation with West African Economic and Monetary Union

Categories: AFRICA

Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region 03/21/2016 12:27 PM EDT

Ambassador Samantha Power

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City

March 21, 2016

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Foreign Minister Chikoti, for being here today and for hosting this timely debate on an incredibly important set of issues. Let me also thank the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Commissioner Chergui, Special Envoy Djinnit, and Mr. Pillai of the World Bank, for your remarks and for your determined work across the Great Lakes region.

The Private Sector Investment Conference co-hosted by Special Envoy Djinnit’s office in Kinshasa last month spoke to the economic and security gains made across the region over the last decade. This progress is tenuous, fragile, and there is still a long way to go – but the trajectory over recent years has clearly been positive.

I would like to use my remarks to underscore the inextricable connection between democratic accountability, human rights, and the rule of law on the one hand, and economic progress and lasting stability and peace on the other. On the very same day that the investment conference began, a court in the Democratic Republic of Congo ruled on the case of six young activists – five men and a woman – who had been charged with attempting to incite civil disobedience. They had been arrested eight days earlier at a private home in Goma, at 4:30 in the morning, as they prepared banners for a general strike to protest potential election delays. One of the banners read: “In 2016, we won the Cup” – referring to the African Nations soccer championship – “we can also win democracy.” That was the banner. They were convicted and sentenced to two years in jail, a term reduced on appeal to six months.

The DRC is not the only country in the region where civil society is threatened, or where democratic processes are being deliberately undermined. This, unfortunately, has been the accelerating trend in recent months – evident at the top, where leaders make increasingly blatant power grabs to remain in office; and on the streets, where their governments close media outlets, arrest opposition members, intimidate civil society groups, and otherwise squeeze the political space available for competing views.

This widening disregard for democratic processes threatens to undermine the political, security, and developmental progress achieved over the last two decades, and it imperils the progress still to come. It defies the ability of citizens to freely choose their leaders and hold them accountable. It drives them into the streets or out of the country. It threatens to plunge communities back into the cycle of poverty and violence from which many are only now beginning to emerge.

Let me speak briefly to the situation in four countries where this trend is most pronounced, and where there is still time to change course.

The economic achievements of President Kagame’s Rwanda are well known, and rightly celebrated. Per capita income has doubled since the year 2000. Rwanda’s advances on the Human Development Index are greater than any other country in the world over the last 25 years. It has become a leader in international peacekeeping – in numbers as well as in performance, with its forces admired for their bravery and their commitment to civilian protection.

When one reflects on the horrors of the genocide that killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu 22 years ago next month, one sees the epic scale of the achievements by President Kagame and by the Rwandan people. The results on the ground for Rwandans are remarkable. Unfortunately, despite Rwanda’s progress on economic rights, on women’s rights – on so many development axes – its record on protecting and promoting civil and political rights is less impressive. The United States remains deeply committed to our partnership with Rwanda, but the continued absence of political space – the inability of individuals and journalists to discuss political affairs or report on issues of public concern – poses a serious risk to Rwanda’s future stability. Rwanda can achieve lasting peace and prosperity through a government centered on the principle of democratic accountability, not centered on any one single individual.

The same applies in Uganda. Uganda is a critical contributor to peace and security, especially through its longtime contribution to the AU force in Somalia. It is also a generous host to more than 500,000 refugees, providing the right to work and access to social services to refugees just like to Ugandan citizens. However, when it comes to democratic accountability, the run-up and aftermath to last month’s elections shows real issues. The government and its security forces detained opposition figures without legal justification, harassed their supporters, and intimidated the media. It passed legislation restricting the operations of NGOs, banning them from acting against the “interests of Uganda.” President Museveni’s actions contravene the rule of law and jeopardize Uganda’s democratic progress, threatening Uganda’s future stability and prosperity.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Kabila appears to be considering a similar path. His country remains one of the poorest in the world, but it has begun to see gains in democracy, stability, and economic growth; in 2014 its economy grew by 9.5 percent – 9.5 percent. Yet as President Kabila’s term nears its end, this fragile progress hangs in the balance. Continued development depends on further advances against armed groups and the extension of state authority – and, of course, it depends on free and fair presidential elections in November.

There is no credible reason that the DRC election would not occur on schedule. The national election commission said in January that it would need 18 months to update voter rolls; but election experts assure us that this can be done in six months. As the representative of a country that continues to debate its own electoral processes, I recognize that elections are not always perfect, and certainly not always easy, but fidelity to the constitution – not to mention long-term stability – means that they must occur on time.

Not only must ballots be cast, but individuals must be allowed to campaign for their preferred candidates and express their opinions freely. There is no excuse for the harassment and detention of peaceful activists and opposition leaders in the DRC, like the six activists I mentioned earlier, or the eighteen other members of the pro-democracy youth movement LUCHA who were detained last Tuesday and held for four days. Their offense was peacefully protesting the Supreme Court’s refusal to release two activists, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, who were arrested a year ago and still have yet to receive a trial. It should go without saying that this is not the path to lasting stability. Fred, Yves, the Goma six, and all the other young people who have done nothing more than seek a better future for their country, should be released.

The government’s attempt to limit its cooperation with the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, in order to force a reduction of troops is also concerning. Let us be clear: this Council should not allow peacekeeping missions to become pawns in political games. When blue helmets are deployed, they must be allowed to fulfill their mandate – in the DRC or anyplace else.

We need look no further than Burundi to see the dangers of pursuing personal power over the people’s interests. Burundi’s economy grew steadily for a decade, but contracted by an estimated 7 percent last year. President Nkurunziza’s decision to stay in office in defiance of the Arusha Accords and his crackdown on political opposition have swiftly undone the country’s progress of recent years. This is evident in the widespread reports of sexual violence, the more than 400 people who have been killed, the 250,000-plus who have fled the country, and the even-more challenging economic times that unfortunately lie ahead.

What remains to be seen is whether President Nkurunziza will take decisive action to correct course. Some of his government’s recent commitments are encouraging – but none have yet been matched by meaningful action. Of the 2,000 prisoners he pledged to free, just 158 have been released to date – and only 47 of those were political prisoners. Two of the five radio stations shuttered have been allowed to reopen – but that’s just two of the five – and one of those allowed to reopen is pro-government. We will welcome and support constructive steps when we see them, but rhetoric is not enough.

Let me conclude. The United States has historically been a strong partner of all four of these countries, as it has been for others in the region. These partnerships are not tied to any particular individual leader, but to the people in these countries. This has been evident in our longstanding aid programs, our efforts to encourage stability, and our commitment to institution building. It is evident too in our strong support for the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Trade in Minerals, which we hope will enable supply chain solutions that encourage the legitimate trade of natural resources.

All four of the leaders I’ve mentioned today have led their countries through extraordinarily difficult times. But the choices they make now will determine whether their countries’ gains are sustained, and how they themselves will be remembered decades from now. President Obama told an audience in Ethiopia last year, “Sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, well, I’m the only person who can hold this nation together. If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”

These nations are ready: if they are given the opportunities to fully participate in democratic processes, to hold their leaders accountable, to be subjected to and to benefit from the rule of law, they will not merely survive, they will prosper. Thank you.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Source:: Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region 03/21/2016 12:27 PM EDT

Categories: AFRICA

Presidential Elections in the Republic of Congo

Press Statement

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC

March 21, 2016

The United States congratulates the Congolese people for their active participation in the March 20 presidential elections. Their enthusiasm and determination to register to vote and peacefully engage, despite many impediments, demonstrates their commitment to democracy.

We note numerous reports of irregularities that have raised concerns about the credibility of the process, including the media blackout during the polls, an imbalanced and restrictive media environment, significant disparity in access to state resources, a short timeframe for electoral preparations, and restrictions on freedoms of expression, communication, and association in the pre-election period. We urge Congolese authorities to restore communications and to complete the electoral process with accuracy, credibility, fairness, and transparency.

As the vote tallying continues, the United States urges the Congolese people to remain patient and avoid speculation. We ask all political leaders to renounce violence, call upon their supporters to remain calm, and seek to resolve any differences peacefully in accordance with existing laws and procedures.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Source:: Presidential Elections in the Republic of Congo

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