WE, citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo, representatives of civil society organizations, citizens’ movements, and independent personalities, declare as follows:
After meeting from August 15 to 17, 2017, in Paris, France, in response to our Bishops’ June 23, 2017, proclamation entitled, “The country is in a deep crisis – stand up, citizens of Congo! December 2017 is approaching!”, which urged us to do our patriotic duty;
Recognizing the pervasive failures of the State and the serious deterioration of the living conditions of our people, resulting from bad governance by a group of individuals who have deliberately refused to organize elections;
Recalling that under the auspices of CENCO (Congo’s conference of Catholic bishops), and in order to prevent total chaos in our country, political and civil society leaders signed a Global and Inclusive Political Agreement on December 31, 2016;
The Congolese people had demanded a change in leadership by the constitutional deadlines and rejected any arrangement in violation of their legitimate rights; nevertheless, they tolerated the Agreement of December 31, 2016, provided that a new president be elected before December 31, 2017;
Even though his mandate has already been extended under this political compromise, Joseph Kabila, the outgoing President, has trampled upon the Agreement, defied the Congolese people and broken his oath before God and the Nation to respect the Constitution;
The CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission) has become a tool to further his interests and surprised the population by stating publicly, in violation of the Constitution and the December 31, 2016 agreement, that it will be unable to organize elections in 2017;
This has led to the creation of zones of insecurity and deadly tragedies across the country, particularly in the Kivus, Ituri, Kongo Central, and the Kasais, as part of a clear objective to proclaim an undue state of emergency and postpone the organization of elections in accordance with the Constitution;
Under the existing regime, terror has once again become the preferred method of government, making it impossible for the Congolese people to claim their rights. The courts have become obedient instruments of the regime; extrajudicial killings have multiplied; mass graves are filling up across the country; access to the media and social networks is restricted; and the new digital economy is imperiled;
We have seen the systematic and violent repression of all expression of the fundamental rights and freedoms of human rights activists, journalists, members of citizens movements, and members of political opposition parties;
The result is that Mr. Kabila has used force and financial corruption to maintain his position as head of state and entrench his regime of depredation, pauperization, and the pillaging of the country’s resources for the benefit of himself, his family, his sycophants, and his foreign allies in Africa and beyond.
Therefore, We, citizens of Congo:
Based upon the fourth paragraph of the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that: “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law”:
Declare that President Joseph Kabila, whose final mandate ended on December 19, 2016, exercises power in manifest breach of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is liable to the offense of high treason in accordance with Article 165, paragraph 1;
Call upon the Congolese people to perform their sacred duty, using peaceful and non-violent means, to thwart President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to remain in power after December 31, 2017, in application of Article 64 of the constitution;
Demand the resignation of Mr. Joseph Kabila Kabange and a citizens’ transition with the primary objective to organize credible, transparent, open, and free elections, whose leaders will be appointed after national consultations, and who will not be candidates;
This transition must help provide the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our country, with a new system of governance built on an independent judiciary, security services who are there to protect our citizens, free expression of our constitutional freedoms, transparent and fair management of all national resources, and strong and democratic institutions that put the interests of the Congolese citizen at the heart of every political initiative;
Demand the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and the opening of media outlets;
Call upon our compatriots from the police, the army, and the security services to respect their republican duty to protect our citizens and the nation instead of allowing themselves to be used as instruments of repression;
Call upon all citizens of the Congo, all religious denominations, students, young people, women, citizens movements, unions, doctors, teachers, professors, civil servants, artists, all political parties, and Congolese in the diaspora to adhere massively to this Manifesto;
Urge all citizens of Congo, men and women alike, to participate actively in the campaign of peaceful and non-violent actions to bring about a return to constitutional, democratic order;
Call on the international community to accompany the Congolese people in their legitimate quest for democracy and liberty.
Citizens of Congo, let us stand up and march forward!
Paris, August 18, 2017