The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has declined the East African Community’s request for an observer mission during Wednesday’s General Election, further straining ties with the regional bloc.
The move stems out of a recent diplomatic tiff that saw DRC recall its ambassadors from Kenya and Tanzania after a Congolese rebel faction formed an alliance in Nairobi.
On Saturday, the DRC officially announced the recall of its envoys for consultation, citing the launch of the Congo River Alliance in the Kenyan capital.
This alliance, led by Congolese politicians and groups, including the M23 rebels notorious for seizing territory in eastern Congo, and Corneille Nangaa, a former Congo election commission chief, has sparked diplomatic tensions within the EAC.
The decision by DRC to refuse election observers was communicated through an official statement released by the EAC.
The statement, addressed to EAC Partner States, Development Partners, and all stakeholders, outlined that the EAC will not be physically present in the DRC to observe the crucial elections, in contrast to the established practice in accordance with the Treaty establishing the East African Community.
“The unexpected development stems from the fact that, despite the EAC’s readiness, the relevant authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo did not grant the request to undertake the observer mission,” said EAC in a statement.
This decision marks a departure from the norm and raises questions about the transparency and openness of the upcoming electoral process in the DRC.
The EAC, while conveying its disappointment, extended its best wishes to the government and the people of the DRC for peaceful elections.
The organisation stressed its continued commitment to fulfilling its mandate in all Partner States, underscoring the importance of fostering democratic processes and ensuring free and fair elections throughout the East African region.
As the DRC prepares for a significant electoral event, the absence of the EAC as observers adds a layer of uncertainty and raises concerns about the monitoring and credibility of the electoral process.
The international community will closely watch the developments surrounding the elections in the coming days.