Procedure : 2017/2510(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0123/2017

Texts tabled :


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 :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0120/2017

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))

Elena Valenciano, Jo Leinen, Norbert Neuser, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge on behalf of the S&D Group

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

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on democracy and the rule of law in several African countries, in particular the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), notably those of 10 March 2016(1), 23 June 2016(2) and 1 December 2016(3),

–  having regard the UN Security Council Presidential Statement of 4 January 2017 welcoming the comprehensive and inclusive peace accord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

–  having regard to the EU Council declaration of 12 December 2016 adopting sanctions against seven individuals responsible for violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

–  having regard to the final report of the European Union electoral observation mission (EOM) to Gabon 2016,

–  having regard to the joint statement issued on 24 September 2016 by the Vice-President / High Representative (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 annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, published on 27 July 2015, on the situation of human rights and the activities of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC,

–  having regard to the statements by the EU Delegation on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular those of 23 November 2016 and 24 August 2016,

–  having regard to the joint statement issued on 11 September 2016 by the spokespersons for the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica,

–  having regard to its plenary debate of 13 September 2016 on the situation in Gabon,

–  having regard to the EU’s local statements of 25 June 2016 on the human rights situation in the DRC, and 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 resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 15 June 2016 on the pre-electoral and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),

–  having regard to the Gabonese Constitution,

–  having regard to the EU Council conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 23 May and 17 October 2016,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement,

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

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

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

A.  whereas, as many African countries continue to grapple with corruption, growing social and economic inequalities and the weakening of state institutions, acts of violence attest to problematic legislation which is mainly caused by partisan appointments and one-party dominance, and whereas this often results in deaths and serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

B.  whereas elections are of crucial importance, and whereas their peaceful, transparent, smooth and timely conduct would contribute greatly to consolidating the progress made by a growing democracy;

C.  whereas humanitarian agencies estimate that political instability is plunging these two countries into chaos and causing their populations, already weakened by the different past and present crises, to sink into extreme poverty and insecurity, which is, more than ever, leaving millions of people in need of assistance;

D.  whereas the protests which erupted in the post-electoral crisis in Gabon in August 2016 and against the government of President Kabila when his term of office expired on 19 December 2016 in the DRC has led to a serious deterioration in the human rights situation and freedom of the media, characterised by an increase in violence among the civilian population and targeted arrests by the authorities in both countries;

E.  whereas at least ten media outlets and radio stations have been shut down by the authorities over the past two years in the DRC;

Democratic Republic of the Congo

F.  whereas since 2011 Joseph Kabila has been President of the DRC; whereas Kabila's second and, according to the Constitution, final term was due to end on 19 December 2016; whereas President Kabila has delayed the election and remained in power beyond the end of his constitutional term of office of 19 December, and whereas this has caused unprecedented political tension, unrest, violence and many deaths across the country; whereas, according to a UN report, 40 people were killed, 107 injured and at least 460 arrested in the DRC during the various demonstrations in late December 2016;

G.  whereas, on 31 December 2016, after weeks of wrangling and false starts, Congo’s opposition leaders, with the mediation of the Congolese Conference of Catholic Bishops and under the auspices of the African Union, signed a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement with the party of President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, which follows the political agreement reached on 18 October 2016 whereby the president must step down after elections that must take place before the end of 2017;

H.  whereas, on 18 January 2017, Congo’s ruling coalition launched an ‘election centre’ aimed at providing logistical support and sensitising the people ahead of the polls scheduled to take place by the end of 2017;


I.  whereas, on 31 August 2016, Ali Bongo, the outgoing president of Gabon, was declared the winner of the presidential election following the announcement by the Ministry of the Interior of the provisional result, based on the results provided by the National Electoral Commission (CENAP);

J.  whereas Jean Ping and his supporters immediately challenged and condemned this result; whereas an appeal alleging electoral irregularities and calling for a recount was lodged with the Constitutional Court;

K.  whereas international observers, and in particular the European Union EOM, identified anomalies in the compilation of the results, in particular in Haut-Ogooué; whereas the opposition also called for a recount in that province, where President Bongo allegedly won 95 % of the votes, with a 99 % turnout; whereas Gabon’s electoral commission members also questioned the count for Haut-Ogooué;

L.  whereas other anomalies denounced include the refusal to recount the votes and compare the official reports drawn up by the two camps; whereas the African Union and the Central African Economic Community both called for the publication of results polling station by polling station; whereas this request was not agreed to by the Gabonese authorities; on the contrary, ballot papers were burnt, making it very difficult to check the official election results;

M.  whereas on 24 September 2016 the Constitutional Court announced the definitive official result of the presidential election, confirming Ali Bongo’s victory; whereas, however, consideration of the appeal has not dispelled all the doubts surrounding the outcome of the presidential election;

N.  whereas, from the day after the election, internet access was blocked for a month; whereas, on 31 August 2016, following the announcement of the provisional results, street demonstrations broke out across the country; whereas, during the night of 31 August 2016, members of the security forces stormed Jean Ping’s campaign headquarters and whereas this culminated in serious violence, which left a number of people dead and led to hundreds of arrests;

O.  whereas the refusal to recount the votes and compare the official reports drawn up by the two camps have meant that the serious doubts concerning the outcome of the presidential election have not yet been cleared up;

P.  whereas numerous findings before and after the 2016 elections have linked Bongo’s regime to human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, torture or ill-treatment, and the killing or kidnapping of people and journalists who expressed their opposition to his regime or his re-election, the latest being the arrest of Echos du Nord journalists on 3 November 2016;

Q.  whereas, in response to a request from the Gabonese authorities citing ‘evidence of incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity’ on the part of opposition supporters, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has announced the opening of a preliminary investigation into the post-electoral situation in Gabon;

R.  whereas the European Union EOM, which has been highly critical of the electoral process, has been the target of repeated acts of intimidation and a broad-based campaign on social media networks designed to call its credibility into question; whereas that campaign has been boosted by statements made by representatives of the Gabonese authorities, as reflected by the publication, in particular in the Journal du Dimanche, of articles suggesting that members of the EOM were spied on by the Gabonese secret service and by the fact that an investigation has been opened in an effort to discredit the mission and its conclusions;

1.  Deplores the loss of lives during the demonstrations over the last few months in both the DRC and Gabon and expresses its greatest sympathy to the families of the victims;

2.  Strongly condemns the constant threats, attacks, use of force and severe restrictions and intimidations faced by peaceful demonstrators, the opposition, human rights defenders and journalists in both Gabon and the DRC; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;

3.  Recalls that both Gabon and the DRC made a commitment under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights principles, which include freedom of expression and of the media, good governance and transparency in political office;

4.  Calls on the EU Delegation to continue to closely monitor developments in both Gabon and the DRC, to use all appropriate tools and instruments to support human rights defenders and pro-democracy movements, and to conduct an enhanced political dialogue with the authorities, as enshrined in Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement,

5.  Calls on the Governments of Gabon and the DRC to conduct a thorough and expeditious review of election procedures and to quickly implement the reforms needed to improve processes and instil confidence in the governments among their citizens;

Democratic Republic of the Congo

6.  Commends the tireless efforts made by the mediators from the Congolese National Conference of Bishops (Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo – CENCO) to facilitate the agreement to reach a compromise solution consisting in a transitional period that could lead up to the holding of the long-awaited presidential elections before the end of 2017 without having to amend the Constitution; calls on both the authorities and the opposition to refrain from any action or statement that could cause unrest to spread further;

7.  Deplores the failure of the government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to hold the presidential election within the constitutional deadline in the DRC; 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;

8.  Expresses deep concern at the deteriorating human rights situation, the increased restriction of the political space in the DRC and in particular the instrumentalisation of the judicial system and the violence and intimidation faced by human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists; calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners; asks the authorities to immediately lift all restrictions on the media;

9.  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;

10.  Reiterate its willingness to collaborate with international partners in order to ensure that a clear and comprehensive plan is put in place to finance the Congolese elections and to communicate this plan widely, provided there is a credible timeline and a clear political will to go ahead with the elections, so that a lack of resources is not an obstacle to constitutionally mandated elections;


11.  Considers the official presidential election results to be non-transparent and highly doubtful, which has had the effect of calling into question the legitimacy of President Bongo;

12.  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;

13.  Calls on the EU Member States to enter into an intensified political dialogue with the Gabonese Government with the aim of obtaining commitments on the strengthening of democracy, good governance, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are values enshrined in the Cotonou Agreement and in the Constitutive Act of the African Union;

14.  Urges the European Council to initiate a consultation process under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement as soon as there is a lack of progress in the intensified political dialogue; urges the EU, should it prove impossible to reach an agreement within the consultation process, to take appropriate measures, such as travel restrictions and the freezing of funds, against the institutions and individuals responsible for the manipulation of the election result and the violations of human rights in the aftermath of the election;

15.  Deplores the fact that the appeal procedure which led to Ali Bongo being declared the victor in the election was conducted in an opaque manner, that this has made it impossible to dispel all the doubts surrounding the final result, and that the Constitutional Court failed to take proper account of the irregularities noted in some provinces;

16.  Remains deeply concerned about the effective role of the CENI on which the legitimacy of the electoral process is largely dependent; recalls that it should be an impartial and inclusive institution, with sufficient resources to allow a comprehensive and transparent process;

17.  Condemns in the strongest terms the intimidation and threats which the members of the European Union EOM have suffered and the attacks challenging the neutrality and transparency of the EOM, and urges the Gabonese authorities to fully respect and implement the recommendations contained in the Final Report of the EU Election Observation Mission;

18.  Deplores the fact that, in a breach of the memorandum of understanding signed between the European Union and the Gabonese Government, the European Union EOM was granted only limited access to the centralised vote counts in the local electoral commissions (LECs) and at the CENAP headquarters in Libreville and subsequently to the constitutional appeal procedure;

19.  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.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0085.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0290.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0479.

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