Speech by the President of the DRC at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union

February 11, 2019

Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, President of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State and Government, Excellency Mr. the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Excellency the President of the Commission of the African Union, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to be received by you, as the newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to speak for the first time at the 32nd Summit of the African Union.

First, allow me to thank the Government and the fraternal people of the Federal and Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for the warm and fraternal welcome and hospitality extended to my entire delegation and to myself since our arrival on the Abyssinian soil. I salute your great and beautiful country, cradle of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, symbol of African independence, which has been able to modernize and become one of the African models in sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, services, and good governance.

I would also like to congratulate Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi on his brilliant election as head of this Assembly of Heads of State and Government. I am convinced that your high leadership qualities, the historical and proven commitment of your country, Egypt, to the pan-African ideals, will allow you to effectively lead our organization throughout your mandate.

I also commend the action of your predecessor, Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and congratulate him on the dedication and skill with which he has fulfilled his mandate. To his credit, we can cite the steering of the Reform of the Commission, as well as his initiative to ensure the financial autonomy of our organization.

Finally, allow me to pay a heartfelt tribute to Mr. Moussa Faki, President of the African Commission, for the laudable and tireless efforts he constantly makes to defend and promote the objectives and principles of the Constitutive Act. The Democratic Republic of Congo wishes to reaffirm its commitment to accompany it in the dynamic it intends to pursue for the smooth running of our continental Organization.

ladies and gentlemen,

It is a fact that the Democratic Republic of Congo is here before you in a particular context which I am sure will honor all of Africa. This context results from the elections that took place on December 30, 2018, consecrating the very first democratic and peaceful alternation of power since our independence, in respect to the Constitution.
This peaceful transfer of power between the outgoing President and the leader of the oldest opposition party has denied all the prognosis for the chaos announced after the elections. It is proof of the political maturity of our people. Throughout the country, this democratic process has been widely welcomed by our people who aspire to peace.
It is therefore with a very high sense of responsibility and awareness of the historical significance of this event for the people of my country, fatherland of Patrice Emery Lumumba, that I appear before you.

ladies and gentlemen,

This passage of witness also augurs a new era where, on the basis of this democratic acquis, we need, without rest or respite, to further consolidate peace and security, to fight against bad values, to build a rule of law, to reinforce the politics of Good neighborliness and the peaceful settlement of disputes, neutralize the nebulae of armed groups that are killing and desolating some parts of the country, especially in Beni and Butembo, in the Northeast.

It is worth recalling here that Africa is now faced with the spread of terrorism, which is a serious threat to the DRC, especially in the eastern part of the country, increasing the risk of exacerbating population displacements. That is why I appeal to all Africa to unite and put an end to this scourge.

ladies and gentlemen,

Our country Congo has suffered so much since it was Congo.
The deadly wars we have been going through should involve all of Africa and the International Consciousness, so as not to favor or sponsor any attempt to revive the same atrocities that we, the Congolese People, have been decrying for more than twenty years.
It is no longer acceptable that my country, the Congo, continues to be indefinitely the victim of the greed of its immense natural resources. However, through win-win partnerships, the DRC is committed to contributing to any action aimed at the development of its natural resources for the well-being of Africa and the rest of the world.

ladies and gentlemen,

I take this opportunity to welcome the involvement of the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and particularly the Development Community of Southern Africa (SADC), which ensured election observation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and whose support for the political process resulted in this peaceful alternation in our country. This co-operation with the African Union, ECCAS, SADC, other African sub-regional organizations, sister African States and the international community has been and remains precious for sustainably embedding the achievements of our democracy, strengthening the state of law, and contributing to the economic and social development of the country.
Allow me to make special mention, on behalf of my people and myself, of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Kenya, and the Republic of South Africa for their exceptional commitment to peace and lasting stability in the Congo.

ladies and gentlemen,

In strict respect of the deep expectations of our people and the international commitments of our country, I will seek during my mandate to bring the DRC to its place within the African Union, an integrating core, a country transversal joining all the Africa’s, in their cultural, linguistic and religious diversity.
We are determined to promote an integrated development of the Democratic Republic of Congo and, consequently, that of Africa, through the fulfillment of the vision of the Agenda 2063, and by effectively promoting all the resources of our country.
Allow me here, then, to reaffirm our total adherence to the sacrosanct ideals advocated by the founding fathers of our continental unity and transcribed in the Constitutive Act of our Union, devoting respect for independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of each of our States.

ladies and gentlemen,

Regarding the theme of this 32nd Summit, “Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Sustainable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa,” I would like to stress that it touches on one of the major concerns of the Democratic Republic of Congo, partly justified by the fact that our country shares borders with nine neighboring countries. Each of its neighbors has experienced either political, community, or humanitarian crises; or civil wars, insurrections, and armed attacks; even epidemics and natural disasters resulting in waves of forced displacement and refugees on a recurring basis. Repatriation of these populations has been problematic each time.

My country has acceded to several international legal mandates regulating this matter. I intend to respect them. These include the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees and the 1965 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, signed on 14 July 1973.

While reaffirming our African vocation and our legendary hospitality, we invite the States of our Region to pool their efforts to find a suitable solution to the question of the forcibly displaced as well as that of the armed groups which rage along our respective borders. Peace in the Great Lakes Region is at this price.

In reference to the issue of internally displaced persons, my Government will strive to restore national harmony and stability, end ethnic conflicts and the activities of domestic and foreign armed groups throughout the country.

My country has also recently repatriated ex-combatants to their countries of origin, in accordance with the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement, and calls for pooling the efforts of the States in the region to put an end to the question of repatriating external armed groups.

ladies and gentlemen,

The profound and rapid changes we have witnessed in recent years make Africa the continent of the present and the future. By 2050, one in four people in the world will be African.

It is understandable that to date, the discussions leading to the reform of the United Nations Security Council have not yet corrected the evidence demonstrating that the representation of Africa in this international body is unbalanced.

I therefore call for renewed action by the African leaders to be in a spirit of unity and solidarity, so that Africa can quickly benefit from two permanent seats on the Security Council.

Excellency President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and President-in-Office of the African Union, Heads of State and Government, President of the Commission of the Union African, ladies and gentlemen,

The issue of refugees and internally displaced people slows the pace of our efforts to eradicate poverty, environmental risks, and the strengthening of good governance and conflict prevention that affect our populations on the African continent.

I remain convinced that the present meeting will lead to positive results, which will enable us to strengthen the stability of our States and thus contribute to resolving this thorny issue which particularly threatens our youth, an unfortunate breeding ground for the recruitment of armed gangs and terrorist groups of all kinds.

On behalf of the Congolese people, I wish every success to the deliberations of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference.

God bless our Union,

Matondo mingi
Asante Sana
Thank you

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