Procedure : 2017/2510(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0124/2017

Texts tabled :

B8-0124/2017

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 180kWORD 48k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0120/2017
25.1.2017
PE598.435v01-00
 
B8-0124/2017

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))


Rolandas Paksas, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Ignazio Corrao, Piernicola Pedicini on behalf of the EFDD Group

European Parliament resolution on the rule of law crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Gabon (2017/2510(RSP))  
B8-0124/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the political agreements reached in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 18 October and 31 December 2016,

–  having regard to the constitution of the DRC,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2277,

–  having regard to UN Security Council presidential statement S/PRST/2017/1,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 17 October 2016,

–  having regard to the EU declaration on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of 12 December 2016,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson of 31 August 2016 following the announcement of the provisional election results in Gabon,

–  having regard to the joint statements by the spokespersons for the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, on Gabon, issued on 11 and 17 September 2016, and following the announcement by the Gabonese Constitutional Court of the final results of the presidential elections, issued on 24 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 Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Republic of Gabon and the European Union concerning the European Union Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Gabon,

–  having regard to the statement by the head of the EOM to Gabon on the results of the elections, in particular in the province of Haut-Ogooué,

–  having regard to the final report of the EOM to Gabon,

–  having regard to the UN International Charter of Human Rights,

–  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 the rule of law, accountability, respect for human rights and free and fair elections are essential elements of any functioning democracy; whereas these elements are challenged in some countries of sub-Saharan Africa, including the DRC and Gabon; whereas the 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance reveals that improvements in overall governance in Africa over the past 10 years have been held back by a widespread deterioration in the category of safety and rule of law;

B.  whereas the obligation to uphold the rule of law is an integral part of the overall commitment to governance and democracy by African heads of state and government, as expressed in the African Union’s Constitutive Act;

C.  whereas governments ground their legitimacy in clearly and inclusively defined political frameworks;

Democratic Republic of the Congo

D.  whereas in December 2016 at least 40 people were killed by police and soldiers in the DRC; whereas a majority of these people were protesting against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the official end of his mandate on 19 December; whereas 107 people have been injured or ill-treated and there have been at least 460 arrests;

E.  whereas in September 2016 in Kinshasa 54 more demonstrators calling on President to respect the constitutional deadlines were killed by defence and security personnel using excessive force; whereas to date no-one has been held accountable;

F.  whereas despite its richness in natural resources, the DRC remains one of the world’s least developed countries, with 9 out of 10 inhabitants in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, 10 % of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day and 50 % lacking access to safe water, the presence of over 70 armed groups and around 1.9 million displaced people; whereas another shock to the already weak institutions would have potentially disastrous humanitarian consequences;

G.  whereas the donor and business community has shown decreasing confidence in the DRC as an investment prospect, thus driving away investment and humanitarian assistance as well; whereas responses to UN appeals for the DRC have been steadily decreasing over the last five years, showing a growing donor fatigue; whereas institutional instability can only exacerbate this already worrying trend;

H.  whereas on 31 December 2016 an agreement between political forces was reached in Kinshasa; whereas this agreement foresees the first peaceful transfer of power in the country since 1960, the installation of a transitional government of national unity, the holding of elections by the end of 2017, and the stepping-down of President Kabila; whereas under the agreement President Kabila will be unable to change the constitution to stay in power for a third term, and will appoint a prime minister from the opposition to oversee the transition;

I.  whereas on 12 December 2016 the European Council adopted sanctions against 7 individuals in the DRC;

Gabon

J.  whereas presidential elections were held in Gabon on 27 August 2016; whereas the incumbent President, Ali Bongo, won the elections according to the results provided by the National Electoral Commission (CENAP), with around 5 600 votes more than his main rival, Jean Ping; whereas an appeal alleging electoral irregularities and calling for a recount was lodged with the Gabonese Constitutional Court; whereas notwithstanding the criticism Mr Bongo (aged 57), was confirmed as the winner of the August presidential elections after a recount ordered by the court;

K.  whereas the presidential elections was monitored by international observers including the EU’s Election Observation Mission (EOM); whereas in its analysis of the final results of the presidential elections the EOM identified clear anomalies, in particular in President Bongo’s home province, Haut-Ogooué; whereas the anomalies denounced include refusal to undertake recounts and the burning of ballot papers in response to a request by the African Union that voting figures be published broken down by polling stations;

L.  whereas the EOM was the target of repeated acts of intimidation during its activities in Gabon, in particular through an intense campaign of defamation in the press; whereas President Bongo himself strongly criticised the mission after questions were raised over his narrow victory;

M.  whereas after the announcement of the election results, clashes between opposition supporters and security forces broke out in the capital, Libreville, and in other major cities, causing seven deaths and leaving dozens of people injured, with thousands being detained; whereas the Gabonese security forces stormed the headquarters of the opposition candidate Jean Ping, internet access was cut, and numerous cases of human rights violations linked to the political situation are claimed to have occurred; whereas the Gabonese security forces have been accused by international NGOs of being responsible for those acts;

N.  whereas the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced on 30 September 2016 that she was opening an initial inquiry into the post-election unrest in Gabon;

O.  whereas on 5 January 2017 President Bongo announced his intention to convene a national dialogue aimed at reconciliation in the country; whereas members of the opposition held their own conference in December, at which Jean Ping, leader of the opposition and runner-up in the elections, introduced himself president-elect and harshly criticised the government, urging the people of Gabon to ‘take their destiny into their own hands’ and foreseeing new protests;

1.  Is extremely concerned at the steady decline in respect for the rule of law in Africa, as indexes show that the situation has been worsening for around 70 % of Africans over the past 10 years; reaffirms that human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing;

2.  Recalls that the primary duty of a state and of its officials is to protect its citizens and to abide by its international obligations to guarantee people’s right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, and therefore urges law enforcement officials never to use firearms or excessive violence against peaceful protesters;

Democratic Republic of the Congo

3.  Condemns the violence and the killing of civilians in the DRC; regrets that no-one has been brought to justice for the incidents of September; calls for the launch of a full investigation into the events that resulted in excessive use of force and loss, in order to ensure that those responsible are held to account;

4.  Welcomes the agreement between political forces reached with the mediation of the National Bishop’s Conference (CENCO) on 31 December 2016, built on the political agreement reached in October under the auspices of the African Union; encourages the political parties which did not sign the agreement to do so, and invites all political stakeholders to work together in order to resolve the pending issues and to implement the agreement fully and swiftly, in line with the DRC’s constitution and Un Security Council resolution 2277(2016); stresses the importance of the inclusion of women in the implementation of the agreement;

5.  Calls on the authorities to proceed with updating the electoral roll, with the logistic and technical support of the UN’s Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), and to take all necessary action to create an environment that is conducive to holding free, fair and credible elections no later than December 2017;

6.  Commends the constructive role played by regional organisations and other countries in the region in achieving the agreement; calls on the African Union and the EU delegation to the country to closely monitor the implementation of the agreement and to give assistance if requested;

7.  Calls on the international community and international donors to accompany the transition process both politically and financially; calls for the EU and its Member States to continue their assistance to the people of the DRC with a view to improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable communities and tackling the consequences of displacement, food insecurity and natural disasters;

8.  Calls on the authorities to take measures to reduce the risk of violence while not restricting freedom of association; calls on the political parties to act in good faith and avoid any action that could create tensions;

Gabon

9.  Expresses its deep concern at the violence that took place following the announcement of the provisional results of the 2016 presidential elections; calls on all Gabonese stakeholders to use legally established channels to resolve all disputes pertaining to the result of the elections, and to show restraint in their actions and declarations so as to avoid an escalation of violence;

10.  Is convinced that to ensure a stronger democratic system in Gabon, there should be a real separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches;

11.  Strongly condemns all arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions and political intimidation, and all restrictions on freedom of expression both prior to and after the presidential elections; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful demonstrators, journalists and political opponents who have been arrested, recalling that their imprisonment relates directly to the legitimate exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms;

12.  Calls on the Gabonese authorities to ensure that the security forces act in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, on a basis of full respect for human rights; underlines the need to make sure that all claims of human rights violations are properly and thoroughly investigated and those responsible are brought to justice;

13.  Denounces all instances of intimidation against the members of the EU’s EOM; urges the Gabonese authorities to fully implement the recommendations contained in the EOM’s final report; deeply regrets the fact that, despite the memorandum of understanding signed with the Gabonese government, the EOM was allowed no access or only limited access to the official minutes, since this was needed to check the correctness of the presidential electoral process; considers that this reveals a major weakness in the Gabonese electoral process;

14.  Welcomes the efforts at mediation made by the African Union to help resolve the post- electoral dispute, and calls on the EU and ACP countries, 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 violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

15.  Believes that the present deep political and social divisions in Gabon call for a clear political response in order to preserve the stability of the country, generate greater trust among the citizens in Gabon, and give real legitimacy to the institutions; welcomes President Bongo’s proposal to convene a national dialogue to reconcile the country; underlines that this dialogue should be carried out in good faith and in an inclusive and constructive way; regrets the refusal of Jean Ping to participate in this national dialogue;

16.  Urges the Government of Gabon to conduct a comprehensive and rapid reform of the electoral procedure in order to improve it and make it fully transparent and credible; stresses the need for the Gabon authorities to demonstrate their willingness to cooperate constructively with the international partners, so as to ensure that the next parliamentary elections take place in a free and transparent environment;

17.  Calls on the Government of Gabon to ratify and respect the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Governments and Parliaments of the DRC and of Gabon, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Council, the East African Community and the governments of its member states, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the institutions of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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