Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - March 2023

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - March 2023

Date | March 2023

In March, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) was chaired by Tanzania. Four sessions were convened in March and two of these were committed to country specific situations whereas the other two addressed thematic issues on the agenda of the PSC. The initial program of work of the PSC also envisaged sessions on three other substantive issues but these were postponed.

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Briefing on the situation in eastern DRC and the deployment of the EAC regional force

Briefing on the situation in eastern DRC and the deployment of the EAC regional force

Date | 17 February 2023

Tomorrow (17 February), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1140th session at the Heads of State and Government level to consider the deteriorating security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the deployment of the East African Community (EAC) Regional Force. The session is expected to consider the situation within the framework of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for DRC and the Region (PSCF Agreement). This month marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the PSCF which rekindled a sense of hope for ending the recurring cycles of conflict in eastern DRC and its impacts on the stability and development of the Great Lakes region.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the PSC for the month is expected to deliver opening remarks to be followed with a briefing update by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission. Statements are also expected from João Manuel Lourenco, President of the Republic of Angola, AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation and Chairperson of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Évariste Ndayishimiye, President of the Republic of Burundi and Chairperson of the EAC. The Chairpersons of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) are also expected to make statements. As countries concerned, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi, President of the DRC and Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda will also present statements.

The last time the PSC considered the situation in eastern DRC was at its 1103rd session convened on 31 August of the previous year, where it endorsed the deployment of EAC Regional Force to eastern DRC and called on the AU Commission to facilitate coordination among efforts being deployed by the various stakeholders in the region.

Unfortunately, peace continues to elude the eastern DRC and the deterioration of the security situation is once again stoking tensions in the region. DRC happens to be the chair of the regional oversight mechanism (ROM) which is the main body that reviews the progress on the implementation of the national and regional commitments made by signatory countries under the PSC framework. DRC is expected to hand over the chairmanship to Burundi who will host the next meeting of the ROM.

Regional diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the EAC and the ICGLR, otherwise known as the Nairobi and Luanda processes, have been trying to address the growing insecurity in the eastern DRC. However, the security situation has continued to escalate worsening the already dire humanitarian situation in the region. The M23 Movement had reportedly withdrawn from some of the territories it controlled in North Kivu as a result of these regional diplomatic efforts. With the recent resumption of intense fighting with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and other armed groups, however, M23 reportedly took control of several villages including a strategic town, Kitshanga, cutting off the road to Goma, the regional capital. In recent days, M23 is said to have moved closer to Sake, a town west of Goma.

The EAC Facilitator of the Peace Process in the eastern DRC, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation in North Kivu and called for the cessation of all hostilities and adherence to the agreements reached within the framework of the Nairobi and Luanda processes which, among other things, included the withdrawal of M23 from occupied territories, the accelerated implementation of the Demobilisation, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilisation Program (P-DDRCS) and the resumption of consultations between the Congolese government and armed groups.

Although international attention is focused on the military activities of the M23, other armed groups operating in eastern DRC such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Coopérative pour le Développement du Congo (CODECO), the FDLR, and the Mai-Mai Group have also continued to cause havoc in the region. The ongoing fighting has resulted in massive displacement of people. The rise of hate speech and incitement to violence targeting minority communities in the eastern DRC is also causing significant alarm.

The escalating security situation has continued to aggravate the already tense relationship between the DRC and Rwanda. On 24 January, Rwanda said that it took defensive measures against a Congolese aircraft that violated its airspace, while DRC denied the accusation and characterized Rwanda’s actions as “a deliberate act of aggression”. Both Kinshasa and Kigali have ratcheted up the rhetoric and this has heightened fears of direct military confrontation between the two countries. Most recently, on 15 February, Rwanda released a statement accusing DRC soldiers of cross-border shooting. According to the press release, FARDC forces entered ungoverned territory between the two countries and started firing against Rwandan border post.

Clearly there is increasing risk of the situation plunging the two countries into full blown inter-state war with dire consequences including the danger of sacking other countries from the region into regional conflagration. Not any less worrisome is misinformation, disinformation and propagation of ethnic based hate speech and incitement of violence continues to deepen inter-ethnic and intercommunal tension and heightened risks of mass atrocities.

The EAC Heads of State and Government met in Bujumbura in an extraordinary summit on 4 February 2023 to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the eastern DRC. The Presidents of DRC and Rwanda as well as other regional leaders attended the summit which called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all foreign armed groups. The summit also instructed the EAC chiefs of defense forces to meet and set new timelines for the withdrawal of these forces.  The chiefs of defense forces met in Nairobi based on the EAC summit decision to assess the security situation in the eastern DRC and recommend a new course of action. As the M23 continues to advance and control more territories in North Kivu, however, public sentiment in the region is changing with protests against both the EAC regional force. The Congolese government is pushing the regional force to undertake offensive operations against the M23. Kenyatta has called on countries deploying their troops as part of the regional forces to take their positions urgently. In North Kivu, he called on the regional force to interpose itself between the warring parties in areas vacated by the M23.

Kenyatta has expressed his intentions to convene a fourth round of talks as part of the Nairobi process.  He also urged all the parties to implement the outcomes of the third round of talks to build the necessary confidence in the process and called for regional and international support to ensure the success of the next round of talks. Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye, current chair of the EAC, are also reportedly planning to convene a mini-summit on 17 February in Addis Ababa ahead of the PSC Summit, which will bring together Presidents Tshisekedi and Kagame as well as EAC leaders along with ICGLR to assess the implementation of the decisions made in in the context of the Nairobi and Luanda processes.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. The PSC meeting is expected to assess developments in the eastern DRC and express serious concerns about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the region. It may express support for the decision of the EAC extraordinary summit for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign armed groups. It may also reiterate support for the EAC regional force and its expedited deployment to carry out its mandate. The PSC may express concern about the increasing tensions between DRC and Rwanda and encourage the two countries to resolve differences through dialogue in the context of the ongoing regional initiatives. The PSC may express support to the EAC and ICGLR and commend the efforts of the Chairperson of ICGLR Angolan President Joao Lourenco and the EAC Chairperson Burundi’s President as well as the facilitator for the Nairobi process Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. It may emphasize the need for the scrupulous implementation of decisions taken within the framework of the Nairobi and Luanda processes to de-escalate the situation in the eastern DRC and ease tensions between DRC and Rwanda. The PSC may take the opportunity to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the PSCF and call on the convening of a summit level meeting on the reinvigorating of the various mechanisms of the PSCF and for countries of the region to reaffirm their commitments and the guarantors in this regard. It may also underscore the need to reinvigorate the mechanisms under the PSCF to address the prevailing peace and security challenges and build the necessary trust and confidence between and among countries of the region. The PSC may express concern on the widespread misinformation, disinformation, ethnic based hate speech and incitement of violence and the associated risks of mass atrocities in the region and may request the AU Commission to put in place a mechanism for addressing these grave threats. It may finally call on the relevant regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECS/RMs) to convene a joint summit for ensuring harmonization and coordinated action with a view to avoid any misunderstanding and divergence of policy actions among them.



Date | October 2022

In October, the Kingdom of Morocco was the monthly rotating chairperson of the Africa Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). The provisional program of work initially envisaged five substantive sessions of which two agenda items were dedicated to country/region specific issues. Two more agenda items with country/region focus were added in the course of the month. Accordingly, situations in the Horn of Africa, Central Africa and the Sahel were considered during the month. Overall the PSC convened seven (7) sessions and one joint consultative meeting addressing a total of eight (8) agenda items plus the consultative meeting.

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Date | August 2022

In August, The Gambia chaired the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). From the eleven sessions initially inscribed in the Provisional Program of work, two were postponed. Another agenda item was added in the course of the month. Seven of the sessions were committed to thematic agenda items while two addressed a country/region specific issue.

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Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Date | 31 August 2022

Tomorrow (31 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1103rd session to address the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. Statements will also be presented by the respective representatives of DRC, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of Angola (on Luanda Peace Process and as the Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)), the Republic of Kenya (on Nairobi Process), Republic of Burundi as Chair of the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Secretariat, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat and United Nations (UN) Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

The last time Council discussed the situation in eastern DRC was at its 1078th session on the Great Lakes Region (GLR) which took place on 19 April 2022. An issue of central concern which featured at that session was the resurgence of the March 23 Movement (M23), a development which further aggravates the challenges to security facing eastern DRC. In addition to deliberating on the security threats imposed by M23 and other armed groups’ insurgency in eastern DRC, tomorrow’s session is expected to address the growing concern over the possibilities of regional conflict among countries neighbouring the DRC. The session is also expected to serve as an opportunity for the PSC to discuss how it can contribute to ongoing efforts and initiatives spearheaded by EAC and ICGLR to deescalate tensions among countries in the region and to effectively respond to the armed insurgency in eastern DRC.

The recent resurfacing of M23, a movement which was assumed to have been effectively defeated through the collaborative efforts of the DRC military, MONUSCO and the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), represents the most serious security challenge to eastern DRC in recent years. Since the resumption of its military activities in March 2022, M23 has been able to advance and capture key strategic towns in Kivu and Ituri provinces. In North Kivu in particular, the M23 was able to overran the Rumangabo military base which is the largest military base of the Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC). By June 2022, a wing of M23 was able to take over the city of Bunagana along the border with Uganda. Although M23’s activities became widely apparent in March 2022, reports indicate that the movement has been infiltrating key military positions and strategic areas in North Kivu since at least November 2021.

The deteriorating insecurity in eastern DRC due to revival of M23 is also having grave humanitarian consequences. In just a few weeks of fighting and attacks by M23, over 170,000 people were reportedly displaced. According to the latest report of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “North Kivu has recorded twice as many cases of gender-based violence between January and June [2022] compared to the same period in 2021”. In Ituri province, the same report records the killing of over 60 civilians just between 30 July and 11 August 2022, due to intensified attacks. As a result of heightened insecurity, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) delivering humanitarian assistance have also been forced to cease their activities in some parts of the region. The death toll among displaced populations has also been causing increasing concern among humanitarian actors in the region. In Ituri, over 800 deaths were recorded in the period from January to June 2022 and out of these, 715 are reported to have been sheltered in internally displace persons (IDP) camps. Having been redeployed to fight M23, a significant portion of the Congolese army has been unable to provide protection to vulnerable communities including IDPs.

In addition to worsening the insecurity in eastern DRC and its humanitarian toll, M23’s revival has also resulted in political tensions between DRC and Rwanda in particular. The tension has led to suspension of Air Rwanda flights to DRC and freezing of diplomatic relations. In June 2022, the DRC decided to close its border with Rwanda after a Congolese soldier was found shot dead in Rwandan territory. Since then, the tension between the two countries escalated with the two countries trading accusations and blames. On the one hand, DRC has been alleging Rwandan involvement in reviving the M23 while on the other hand, Rwanda blames DRC forces of firing rockets into its territory. Further to that, Rwanda also accuses DRC of supporting the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed rebel group operating in eastern DRC and with links to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Other developments during end of 2021 and into 2022 that also apparently contributed to the heightened regional suspicion include the deployment of Ugandan forces into eastern DRC to pursue the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel armed group which also operates actively in North Kivu province of eastern DRC. In December 2021, DRC allowed the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) to enter its territory to chase ADF fighters. Further to that and as part of the military agreement between DRC and Uganda, an MoU was also signed between the military chiefs of the two countries for the construction of roads linking DRC and Uganda. According to some reports, the MoU which has not been made public, allows the UPDF to provide security services for the construction of the roads that extend to DRC territories, which gives huge advantages to Uganda.

Following complaints expressed by DRC against alleged Rwandan support for M23 during the Executive Council meeting in Malabo, the AU Assembly at the Extraordinary Summit of 28 May 2022 entrusted Angola, as the chair of the ICGLR, to mediate talks between DRC and Rwanda. As a follow up to that, the Angolan President, João Lourenço facilitated talks between President Félix Tshisekedi and his counterpart Paul Kagame on 06 July 2022. The talks resulted in the adoption of the Luanda Roadmap which among other key points provides for the adoption of de-escalation measures including discussions around addressing the issue of FDLR. As a follow up to the adoption of the Luanda Roadmap, another meeting was held between the foreign ministers of the two countries on 21 July which led to the establishment of a Joint Permanent Commission for monitoring implementation of the roadmap.

Prior to the Luanda process, the EAC on its part has initiated the Nairobi Process for stabilising eastern DRC, under the outgoing Chairship of Kenya. The Nairobi Process envisages two parallel tracks for stabilising the region. The first one is a political track focusing on facilitating dialogue between DRC government and armed non-State actors including M23 operating in the region. The second track is a military track proposing the deployment of a regional force to contribute to the fight against negative forces.

On the proposed military track of the Nairobi Process, the EAC plans to deploy between 6,500 and 12,000 soldiers with a mandate to ‘contain, defeat and eradicate negative forces’ in the eastern DRC. While the first deployment took place during this month with Burundian troops, the deployment of other forces amid the breakdown of trust and the financing of the troops remain unclear. Two issues that the PSC is expected to address include the mandating of the force, including bringing the deployment under the ASF framework and how the AU may lend support for sourcing funds for the mission.

In terms of the role of the AU, another issue of major interest for members of the PSC is determining how the AU can support the two processes and facilitate coordination and complementarity between the Luanda and Nairobi processes. On the military track, while supporting the initiative, it is also of interest for PSC members to draw on the lessons from past experiences including from the deployment of the FIB of MONUSCO. One such lessons is the challenges of armed militias and insurgencies in eastern DRC could not be addressed through military means. This underscores the need for the primacy of political processes and also the necessity for both undertaking the military measures in strict respect to the sovereignty of the DRC and in compliance with applicable AU and UN norms, including those relating to international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights and protection of civilians.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council is expected to express grave concern over the developments in eastern DRC, particularly the resurgence of M23 and the resultant deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the region. It is also expected to express concern over the political tensions between countries in the region, particularly between DRC and Rwanda and call on both to take all necessary de-escalation measures including through good-faith engagement in mediation efforts facilitated by the AU mandated Luanda process and the relevant RECs/RMs. Council may further express its support for the Luanda and Nairobi Processes and call on all member States of the GLR to lend their support to efforts aimed at de-escalating tensions and degrading negative forces operating in the region. To enhance its role in supporting the two processes and enhancing coordination between them, the PSC may also call on the AU to establish a support mechanism that leverages existing AU processes including its liaison offices in DRC and Burundi. Council may further emphasise the importance of prioritising political solutions and implementation of military tracks in support of such political solutions. It may also stress the need to ensure respect to DRC’s sovereignty as well as standards of IHL and human rights law in the implementation of military efforts. It may further emphasise the importance of sustained and full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the region (PSCF), particularly its provisions on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), for sustainable resolution of conflict and insurgency in the region. Having regard to the dire humanitarian situation in eastern DRC, Council may also appeal to AU member States, partners and the international community to redouble their humanitarian assistance to affected communities in the region.

The growing threat of terrorism in Africa: A product of misdiagnosis and faulty policy response?

Democratic Republic of Congo

May 25, 2022

On 28 May 2022, the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the supreme decision-making organ of the AU, will hold its 16th extraordinary session. The thematic focus of the extraordinary summit is on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government. The summit is convened based on the AU Assembly February 2022 decision on the proposal of the Republic of Angola for the convening of ‘Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa’.

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Democratic Republic of Congo

March 2022

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the African Union (AU). In reviewing the record of the AU in its two decades of existence, the aspect of AU’s role that is sure to attract the most scrutiny relates to the area of peace and security. While this special research report is not meant to provide such a comprehensive review, it seeks to provide an analysis of the major peace and security issues in Africa in 2022 as a useful lens for understanding where the AU’s peace and security order stands 20 years after AU’s launch. In presenting the analysis on the various major peace and security issues afflicting the continent, this report attests to both the importance of AU’s role and how its role has become more, not less, important today than at the time of its establishment, notwithstanding recent regressions in its performance.

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Monthly Digest on the AUPSC - June 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

Date | June 2021

Under Burundi’s chairship, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) convened five sessions during June. Out of these, three addressed country/region specific conflicts and one focused on a thematic agenda item. All sessions convened during the month took place at ambassadorial level.

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Monthly Digest on the AUPSC - January 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

Date | January, 2021

Senegal was the chair of the African Union (AU) Peace and security Council (PSC) in January. A total of four substantive sessions were convened during the month. While two of these sessions were country/region specific, the remaining two were thematic. Although Council’s initial programme of work anticipated a session on South Sudan to take place within the month, the session was postponed to later months. In terms of regional coverage, west and central Africa were the two regions that featured in PSC’s agenda during January.

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Briefing on DRC and Burundi

Democratic Republic of Congo

Date | 18 November, 2018

Tomorrow (19 November) the PSC will hold a briefing session on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi. Although DRC was the focus of the session when the monthly program of work was issued, Burundi was added following the high level regional visit that the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, undertook to DRC and Burundi.

It is expected that the Council will receive a briefing from Chergui focusing on his recent visit to the two countries. Basile Ikouebe, AU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region and Head of AU Liaison Office in Burundi is expected to provide statement.

On Burundi, the briefing is expected to provide updates on the prevailing the political, security, human rights and socioeconomic and humanitarian situation in Burundi. During his visit to Burundi, Chergui met with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and the Interior. He also met, on an informal basis, the First Vice-President of the Republic, Gaston Sindimwo. Chergui was unable to meet with President Pierre Kkurunziza, despite the initial agreement for the meeting.

Since the last PSC meeting held in September 2018, one notable development have been the failure of the 5th round of the EAC led Inter- Burundian dialogue that the facilitator, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, scheduled for 25 October 2018. The delegations of the government and the ruling party the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) boycotted the talks. Government spokesperson stated that they needed to receive the list of participants and the agenda for the talks, insisting that no other issues other than the roadmap towards the 2020 elections shall be discussed.

In the past rounds, the government refused to recognize and engage in talks with some of the major opposition groups. In particular, the government rejects the opposition coalition Conseil National pour le respect de l’Accord d’Arusha pour la Paix et de l’État de Droit (CNARED, or National Council for the Respect of the Arusha Agreement and Rule of Law) claiming that they are associated with the May 2015 failed coup.

In the briefing, it would be of interest for the PSC to hear from Chergui on the outcome of the discussions he held in Bujumbura. In the light of the 19 September communiqué of the PSC, other issues on which member states would like Chergui’s reflections include the fate of the Inter-Burundian dialogue, the finalization of the long stalling conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding relating to the operation of the AU human rights observers and military experts deployed to Burundi.

On DRC, it is expected that Chergui’s briefing will be accompanied by that of the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Liaison Office in the DRC, Ambassador Abdou Abarry. During his visit, Chergui met, among others, with the President Joseph Kabila. The visit focused on the political situation in the country focusing in particular on the preparations for the national elections. Other areas addressed include the deteriorating security situation in eastern DRC and the efforts for combating the spread of Ebola.

In the briefing to the PSC, it is expected that much of the focus would be on the preparations for the holding of the general elections scheduled for December 2018. There are two issues that are of major significance in this regard.

The first relates to the need and prospect for holding free and fair elections. Apart from the logistical and technical preparations that should be put in place, this would entail that
there is an even playing field and that the elections are conducted free from actions or omissions that undermine the credibility of the elections. Despite some of the positive steps notably the announcement that President Joseph Kabila will not stand for the election, concerns abound.

Confidence in the electoral process remains very low. Opposition and civil society raise major concerns about the independence and impartiality of the Electoral Commission. There are also concerns around the integrity of the voter roll With respect to the voting machines, there are concerns that it is susceptible for tampering, particularly if its reliable use is not adequately tested and independently verified. Major opposition parties as well as civil society organizations urge the Electoral Commission not to use the machines.

Other areas of concern, which would be of interest for the PSC, include reports of restrictions on political and civic freedoms including prohibition of public events and their adverse impact on the electoral process. There are reports of attacks against opposition groups and restriction of and heavy-handed response to protestors. Members of the opposition blame the security forces of using disproportionate force and arbitrary arrest. The resultant tension means that the country continues to witness recurring political instability.

In the light of the various issues surrounding the preparations of the elections, an issue on which PSC members would wish to get updates on the role of election observers.
Despite the challenges, there does not seem to be a call for the postponement of the national elections. In an interview to RFI on 16 November, Chergui warned that ‘delaying the elections would put us in a lot of uncertainties. It is to be recalled that the elections have already been postponed two times since 2016.

As part of the briefing, Chergui is also expected to update PSC members on the Ebola outbreak in DRC and ongoing efforts for addressing the outbreak. In this context, an issue of particular interest for the PSC is the implication of the dire security situation in eastern DRC both for the effort to address Ebola and for the planned elections.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. While on Burundi the communiqué is likely to reiterate the points raised in the communiqué of the 794th session of the PSC including on the stalling inter-Burundian dialogue and the finalizing the MoU on AU human rights observers and military experts, on DRC it is expected to highlight the need for the holding of the elections as scheduled under conditions that guarantee free and fair elections.