President of the Democratic Republic of
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila looks on at the opening ceremony of the 31st Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit on August 17, 2011 in Luanda. The two-day summit of the 15-nation Southern Africa comes on the heels of recent crack-downs on anti-government protests in Malawi and Swaziland, which join crises in Zimbabwe and Madagascar on the list of regional leaders' headaches. Southern African leaders opened the summit today, but were largely silent on growing unrest in the region. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

This announcement follows three presidential pardons issued in July, including six members of the youth activist group Struggle for Change (Lucha) who were arrested in February of 2015.

“The Government continues to prove that it is willing to work together with various stakeholders to clear a path for a national dialogue and to move the electoral process forward,” said Minister of Media and Information Lambert Mende. “It is our hope that by making these pardons, we can now come together—civil society, religious groups and opposition parties—to ensure all Congolese voices are heard in the next presidential election.”

Since May 2015, President Kabila has called for a national dialogue to ensure that these elections can occur in a free, fair, transparent and peaceful environment. Key stakeholders from within and outside the DRC have endorsed such a dialogue, including the Congo National Episcopal Conference and other civil society groups, the United Nations, African Union, European Union and the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Earlier this year, the African Union appointed former Togolese Prime Minister Edem Kodjo to facilitate this dialogue, and recently announced that key political parties, including opposition groups, have acknowledged the need to commence this dialogue before the end of July.

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