A top ally of Congolese president Joseph Kabila has suggested a constitutional referendum to alter the number of terms for the presidency going against opponents and western powers who insist Kabila should leave office this year.
In a speech to thousands of supporters at a rally in Kinshasa to celebrate Kabila’s 45th birthday, the secretary-general of his PPRD party, Henri Mova Sakani, said that a constitutional referendum was an option.
“If the people decide to go to a referendum, they are going to do it.The people of Congo Republic did it. The people of Rwanda did it … learn to read the signs of the times,” he said.
Kabila, who has ruled the Central African country since 2001, is being hindered from running for a third elected term by the term limits in Democratic Republic of Congo’s 2006 constitution.
The government, however, has said the election is likely to be pushed back because of budgetary and logistical problems. The country’s constitutional court ruled last month that Kabila would remain in office if the vote does not take place on time.
According to Article 70 of the country’s constitution, the president is elected for a five-year term renewable once and stays in office until a new president is elected.
The presidents of neighbouring Congo Republic and Rwanda last year pushed through constitutional changes by referendum to allow them to stand for third terms, but Kabila would likely face considerably more opposition to any such move.
Others insist that the senate should manage any transition citing article 75 of the constitution which requires that power should be handed over to the president of the senate in case of any vacancy.