Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 10th December, 2018: The Head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2018 Presidential, Legislative and Provincial elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Honourable Mr Justice Ernest Sakala (Retired) of Zambia, accompanied by the SADC Executive Secretary Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax on 10th December, 2018 launched the SADC Election Observation Mission at a public event held in Kinshasa, DRC.
The launch of SEOM was attended by senior officials from the Government of the DRC, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, SADC Ambassadors in the DRC, representatives and leaders of political parties, Civil Society Organisations, religious institutions and the media.
In his remarks the SEOM Head of Mission said the launch of the election observation mission for the 2018 elections in the DRC, is continuation of SADC’s support to bring lasting political stability to the country.
Hon. Mr Justice Sakala reminded stakeholders that, since the DRC joined SADC in 1998, SADC has, in collaboration with the DRC Government and other stakeholders, undertaken initiatives aimed at providing long-lasting solutions to the security and development challenges in the DRC.
On this note, Honourable Mr Justice Sakala cited SADC support in the areas of military, mediation and preventative diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding and specifically, the deployment of troops to Eastern DRC under the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) and the opening of the SADC Liaison Office in Kinshasa as part of the SADC efforts to support the DRC in its drive to attain sustainable peace, political stability and, ultimately, socio-economic development.
The Head of Mission appealed to all political stakeholders in the DRC to ensure that the Elections are managed in a peaceful, transparent and credible manner. He also urged all the eligible voters to brave the weather and turn out in large numbers on the polling day to exercise their democratic right to vote.
On her part, H.E. Dr Tax called upon all Congolese to remain united, calm and allow the democratic process to take its course through the 2018 Presidential, Legislative and Provincial elections, saying the political future of the DRC will be determined by the support and participation Congolese people. H.E. Dr Tax urged all eligible voters to use the 2018 elections as an opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.
Speaking to the SADC election observers, ahead of their deployment to various provinces, the Head of Mission and the SADC Executive Secretary urged the observers to execute their duties with diligence, impartiality and utmost professionalism in line with the SADC Code of Conduct on election observation and, most importantly, in the interest of peace of the people of DRC.
The SADC Observation Mission to the DRC elections consists of 94 members, of which 73 are field observers drawn from 8 SADC Member States, namely Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
SEOM activities in the DRC will be coordinated from its Headquarters, located at the Kempinski Hotel Fleuve Congo in Kinshasa and SEOM will issue its interim statement on 26th December, 2018 at its headquarters.