Procedure : 2017/2510(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0126/2017

Texts tabled :

B8-0126/2017

Debates :

PV 01/02/2017 - 16
CRE 01/02/2017 - 16

Votes :

PV 02/02/2017 - 7.6
CRE 02/02/2017 - 7.6
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0017

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 273kWORD 47k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0120/2017
25.1.2017
PE598.437v01-00
 
B8-0126/2017

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the rule of law crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Gabon (2017/2510(RSP))


Mariya Gabriel, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Michael Gahler, György Hölvényi, Maurice Ponga, Cristian Dan Preda, Anna Záborská, Joachim Zeller, Željana Zovko, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Frank Engel, Ádám Kósa, Adam Szejnfeld, Krzysztof Hetman, Tadeusz Zwiefka, Ivo Belet, Paul Rübig on behalf of the PPE Group

European Parliament resolution on the rule of law crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Gabon (2017/2510(RSP))  
B8-0126/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),

–  having regard to the statements by the EU Delegation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the situation of human rights in the country,

–  having regard to the statement of 18 December 2016 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, on the failure to reach an agreement in the DRC,

–  having regard to the statement of 23 November 2016 by the spokesperson of the VP/HR on current political efforts in the DRC,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 May 2016 and 17 October 2016 on the DRC,

–  having regard to the local EU statements of 2 August 2016 and 24 August 2016 on the electoral process in the DRC following the launch of the national dialogue in the DRC,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on the DRC, in particular resolutions 2293 (2016) on renewing the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts and 2277 (2016), which renewed the mandate of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO),

–  having regard to the UN Security Council press statements of 15 July 2016 and 21 September 2016 on the situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, published on 27 July 2015, on the situation of human rights in the DRC,

–  having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s reports of 9 March 2016 on the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, and on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region,

–  having regard to the joint press release of 16 February 2016 and of 5 June 2016 by the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie on the need for an inclusive political dialogue in the DRC and on their commitment to supporting Congolese actors in their efforts towards the consolidation of democracy in the country,

–  having regard to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region, signed in Addis Ababa in February 2013,

–  having regard to the final report of the European Union electoral observation mission (EOM),

–  having regard to the joint statement issued on 24 September 2016 by the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, following the announcement by the Gabonese Constitutional Court of the official results of the presidential election,

–  having regard to the statement on Gabon issued by the VP/HR’s spokesperson on 11 September 2016,

–  having regard to the press release issued by the African Union on 1 September 2016 condemning the violence of the post-electoral conflict in Gabon and calling for its peaceful resolution,

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015, adopted by the Council of the European Union on 22 June 2015,

–  having regard to the 11th European Development Fund 2014-2020 National Indicative Programme, which prioritises strengthening democracy, governance and the rule of law,

–  having regard to the Congolese and Gabonese Constitutions,

–  having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas a number of African political leaders have attempted to overstay in power, in spite of constitutional limits, disputed electoral processes or strong popular protests, thereby plunging their countries into a lasting period of crisis and instability;

B.  whereas, most recently, Ali Bongo, the Gabonese outgoing president, in power since the death of his father, Omar Bongo, in 2009, was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election; whereas international observers, and in particular the EU EOM, identified clear anomalies in the compilation of the results;

C.  whereas Jean Ping, his main contender, immediately challenged and condemned this result; whereas an appeal alleging electoral irregularities and calling for a recount was lodged with the Constitutional Court, who eventually confirmed the result; whereas, however, consideration of the appeal has not dispelled all the doubts surrounding the outcome of the presidential election;

D.  whereas, following the result, street demonstrations broke out across the country, and were violently suppressed; whereas the post-electoral crisis has led to a significant worsening of the human rights situation in Gabon, characterised by an increase in targeted arrests by the authorities and violence among the civilian population, leaving a number of people dead;

E.  whereas Congolese President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, has delayed the election and remained in power beyond the end of his constitutional mandate; whereas this has caused unprecedented political tension, unrest and violence across the country, causing the death of many;

F.  whereas, consequently, Congolese security and intelligence officials have clamped down on members of the opposition and of civil society opposing the ruling authorities; whereas human rights groups continuously report on the worsening situation with regard to human rights and freedom of expression and assembly in the DRC, including the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and politically motivated trials;

G.  whereas in December 2016 violence escalated following the expiry date of President Kabila’s mandate, causing the death of dozens of people in clashes between protesters and security forces;

H.  whereas the situation is worsened by the persistence and consolidation of impunity in the DRC;

I.  whereas, in both countries, there has been a serious deterioration in the freedom of the media, which is limited by constant threats and attacks against journalists; whereas media outlets and radio stations have been shut down by the authorities, and restrictions have been put on the internet and social networks;

J.  whereas the peaceful, transparent and timely conduct of the presidential elections in these countries would have contributed greatly to addressing the challenge of democratic progress and alternation of power faced by the Central African region;

K.  whereas the 11th European Development Fund 2014-2020 National Indicative Programme prioritises strengthening democracy, governance and the rule of law; whereas both EU and African partners have a strong common interest in the continued development of democracy and the establishment of properly functioning constitutionalism;

Gabon

1.  Is deeply concerned by the political crisis in Gabon and the unfolding violence between protesters and security forces following the proclamation of the preliminary results of the 2016 presidential election;

2.  Strongly condemns all the violence perpetrated, the breaches of human rights, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, political intimidation of civil society and members of the opposition, and the violations of freedom of the press and freedom of expression prior to and after the presidential elections; calls for the release of all political detainees;

3.  Urges the Gabonese authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee in all circumstances respect for democracy, the rule of law, good governance and human rights principles, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press, in accordance with Gabon’s international obligations;

4.  Calls on all political actors and the judicial authorities currently involved in the post-election controversy to show responsibility and restraint and, in particular, to refrain from inciting violence;

5.  Deplores the fact that the appeal procedure which led to Ali Bongo being declared the winner in the election was conducted in an opaque manner, and that the Constitutional Court failed to take proper account of the irregularities noted in some provinces, notably in Haut-Ogooué, the fiefdom of Ali Bongo;

6.  Considers the official presidential election results to be non-transparent and highly doubtful, which has the effect of calling into question President Bongo’s legitimacy; regrets that the Gabonese ruling class missed the opportunity offered by the presidential election to demonstrate to the international community that it can organise an open and fair election and conduct itself with the utmost responsibility throughout an electoral process;

7.  Calls, therefore, for a recount to be referred not only to the Constitutional Court, but also to the African Union and the UN; calls for the launch of the post-electoral mission of the African Union, initially scheduled for September 2016;

8.  Deeply regrets the fact that, despite the memorandum of understanding signed with the Gabonese Government, the EU EOM was granted only limited access to the centralised vote counts in the local electoral commissions (LECs) and at the National Electoral Commission (CENAP) headquarters in Libreville and subsequently to the constitutional appeal procedure, and that this prevented the EU EOM from checking the legitimacy of the presidential electoral process;

9.  Strongly condemns the intimidation and threats against members of the European Union EOM and the attacks challenging its neutrality and transparency, and urges the Gabonese authorities to fully respect and implement the recommendations contained in the EU EOM’s final report;

10.  Points out that a free opposition is fundamental to any democratic system and to the holding of fair elections; calls on the Gabonese authorities to foster and facilitate a participatory, multi-party political environment;

11.  Notes the launch of a national dialogue, as proposed by Ali Bongo, on 14 November 2016; points out, however, that the leading opposition figure, Jean Ping, is refusing to take part and is keen to launch a national dialogue of his own; voices reservations, therefore, as to the credibility and relevance of such processes, and emphasises the urgent need for an open and transparent conciliation procedure to put an end to the post-election crisis;

12.  Urges the Government of Gabon to conduct a thorough and expeditious reform of the electoral procedure in order to improve it and make it fully transparent and credible; stresses that the Gabonese authorities must guarantee full and sincere cooperation with all relevant national and international stakeholders in order to ensure that the next parliamentary elections are fully transparent and fair and take place in a free, democratic, inclusive and peaceful environment;

13.  Calls for an independent and objective investigation into the election-related violence and the allegations of serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and underlines the need to make sure that all those found responsible are brought to justice; calls, moreover, for the EU, in collaboration with the UN and the African Union, to continue to monitor closely the overall situation in Gabon and to report all cases of violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms; notes the opening, at the request of the Gabonese authorities, of a preliminary inquiry at the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the post-electoral violence;

14.  Calls on the Council to consider imposing targeted sanctions on those responsible for the post-electoral violence and human rights abuses, and for undermining the democratic process in the country;

Democratic Republic of the Congo

15.  Deplores the failure of the Congolese Government to hold the presidential election within the constitutional deadline; reiterates its call for the successful and timely holding of elections, in full accordance with the Congolese Constitution and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and insists on the Congolese Government’s responsibility to guarantee an environment conducive to transparent, credible and inclusive elections as soon as possible;

16.  Urges all political actors to engage in a peaceful and constructive dialogue and to prevent any deepening of the current political crisis or refrain from further violence and provocations;

17.  Welcomes the efforts of the National Bishops’ Conference of the Congo (CENCO) to forge a larger consensus on a political transition; takes note of the agreement reached in late December 2016 denying a third term to President Kabila and calling for the election to take place before the end of 2017;

18.  Reiterates its deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation, the increased restriction of the political space in the DRC and the intimidation faced by human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists; condemns any brutal repression of peaceful protestors;

19.  Insists on the government’s duty to respect, protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens; recalls that freedom of expression, association and assembly is the basis of a dynamic political and democratic life, and stresses that any use of force against peaceful demonstration should be prohibited;

20.  Urges a full, thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged human rights violations that took place during the protests in order to identify those responsible and hold them accountable;

21.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on those responsible for the violent crackdown and for undermining the democratic process in the DRC; calls on the Council to consider extending these restrictive measures in the event of further violence;

22.  Calls on the EU Delegation to continue to closely monitor developments in the DRC;

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23.  Stresses that the situation in Gabon and the DRC poses a serious threat to the stability of the Central African region as a whole; reiterates its support to the African Union in its crucial role in preventing a political crisis in the region and any further destabilisation of the Great Lakes Region;

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, the President, Prime Minister and Parliament of the DRC and of Gabon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

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