Fred Bauma, the most prominent activist in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has urged the United States (US) to immediately impose sanctions on those threatening to send the country into a spiral of violence.
Speaking on the behalf of his LUCHA (Lutte pour Le Changement) youth movement during the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on the status of human rights and democracy in the DRC, Bauma told Congress it has "the power and the chance to change the current situation in order to avoid Congo being the next Burundi, the next South Sudan, the next Central African Republic".
Here is a full transcript of Bauma's speech, as President Joseph Kabila's second and final term in office nears completion.
"Three months ago, I was in Kinshasa. I was freed from prison, where I spent 17 months and 50 days in custody. The reason of my arrest was my fervent opposition to President Kabila and his unwillingness to organise elections in order to maintain himself in power by violating the Constitution of our country.
"Unfortunately, my case is not an isolated one, and even not the worst. It has even become a normal routine every single day as we approach 19 December - [the] date which President Kabila should leave power due to the Constitution."
"Add to this, the last free press that once broadcast across the Congolese territory saw their signal being cut, and Congolese and foreign journalists are regularly attacked, arrested and sometimes killed just for doing their job.
"The political space is [too] restricted for peaceful activists which has opened dangerous doors to those who believe in violence as a single way to solve conflict. The impunity towards warlords like Gédéon Kyungu [Mutanga] in Katanga only bolstered those who believe in violence compared to the harsh repression on peaceful activists.
"Nonetheless, this repression has not stopped or discouraged our non-violent fight for a new Congo. This fight is not in any way a fight against the person of President Kabila, but is a firmly to reaffirm our commitment to the values written in our Constitution. It is for peace, social justice for freedom, dignity and it is for not reliving the same cycle of violence we have experienced since our childhood.
"Mr Chairman, it is unfortunately clear and obvious that there will not be elections this year in Congo and this situation will plan the country into a serious crisis of legitimacy which may lead to stimulate political agenda of armed groups and still plan [violence] in the east of the country, and this situation may affect once again all the Great Lakes region and possibly beyond.
"The main excuse of the Congolese government for not organising the election is lack of funding when at the same time, millions of dollars of Congolese people is being spent in corruption and by Congolese government to finance lobbyists for the US government including Congolese.
"Some individuals close to the current government are involved in large-scale looting of resources, corruption and large-scale diversion of public money, as revealed in the recent scandal of the Panama Papers and many reports of international anti-corruption NGOs such as Global Witness.
"In coming days, I would suggest to Congress to actively push the US government to apply more financial sanctions against those Congolese nationals and foreigners, involved in many financial malpractice and scandal that have continued to impoverish the Congolese people.
"I therefore ask the Congress and this Commission to increase the surveillance on the fraudulent financial transactions in US dollars that are handled through US financial institutions and which benefit those who incessantly continue to consume the lives of innocent Congolese people.
"Sanctions should also absolutely be taken against all Congolese individuals directly involved in the repression of peaceful protesters and also responsible for violation of human rights throughout the country.
"I will request that these sanctions to be taken should not only be symbolic but should target individuals in the entourage of the President Kabila because, in my opinion, these sanctions should not have the purpose of punishing the people, but to be used as a pressure on the government in order to compel them to respect the Constitution and avoid violence.
"This is why these sanctions should be taken in time before 19 December in order to be useful and effective in preventing violence. It is very important [that] the United State acts now because I am afraid that tomorrow may be too late.
"Lastly, I should end this testimony by talking about Beni and that territory of Eastern Congo where for the past two years innocent Congolese, men, women and children are horribly being slaughtered and massacred with machetes, forcing thousands of Congolese to flee their homes and villages. All this happening under the impassive watch and presence of MONUSCO, the biggest United Nations mission in the world with a budget of more than $1bn every year and which the United States remains the major donor.
"The failure of MONUSCO in carrying out its peace mission, in Beni as well as the [rest of the] situation in Congo means the failure of the United Nations to truly fulfil its duty. The Congolese should use the United Nations to ensure that MONUSCO truly plays a role of a peacekeeping organisation and not being a simple government partner where, in fact, the same current government is being a major source of danger against the security of Congolese people.
"You have the power and the chance to change the current situation in order to avoid Congo being the next Burundi, the next South Sudan, the next Central African Republic. We have started a long journey towards freedom and, as Congolese, we ask Congress and American people to join us in our side - the side of the Congolese people and the Constitution. We ask you to be on the side of peace through prevention."