DR Congo opposition now wants interim govt before elections

Saturday January 13 2018

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila. He succeeded

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila. He succeeded his assassinated father Laurent Kabila in 2001 and refused to step down at the end of his second and final term in December 2016. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo is demanding an interim transitional government to organise elections as it increasingly becomes clear that they will not be held this year.

Some opposition members are particularly concerned that the current political crisis brought by President Joseph Kabila’s reluctance to leave power, could be a good opportunity for those who harbour the ambition of splitting up the country, especially from the east.

The proposed transitional government — excluding President Kabila — would include some members of the ruling coalition, the opposition, the civil society and the clergy.

David Mialano Tangania, a member of the Mai Mai Party who lives in exile in Kenya, told The EastAfrican that despite a compromise agreement that gave President Kabila a grace period of one year to plan elections, his government has instead resorted to senseless killing of protesters.

“We are tired of fighting which has gone on since 1996, and we want a peaceful transition,” said Dr Tangania.

He said that President Kabila is now reaching out to the leadership of the neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, as well as North Korea, which he has given access to uranium, to help him stay in power despite his term having expired in December 2016. 

However, political ambitions of the top three opposition leaders — Moise Katumbi, Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe — is likely to scuttle any prospects of opposition unity despite the Catholic church rallying the public to push for the exit of President Kabila.

Dr Tangania said that the recent spate of killings by militias in eastern Congo could be a prelude to the re-emergence of armed groups such as M23 and Banyamulenge. 

Government spokesman Lambert Mende has also expressed similar concerns saying that weapons have been distributed by opponents of the government to create an atmosphere of insurrection and overturn the government.

A compromise agreement brokered by the Catholic Church in 2016 allowed President Kabila to stay for one year on the grounds that he would not contest in the elections that he was supposed to organise by the end of 2017.

The new election date is December 23, 2018 and President Kabila maintains that the new timetable is an indication that the government is serious in holding elections.