Opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have called for a nationwide shutdown on Tuesday as part of protests against reports that elections would be delayed till July 2017.
A statement released by leading opposition member, Moise Katumbi, asked Congolese to observe the day as such, as a way of protesting false and non inclusive dialogue in the country. The statement is in apparent reference to the government’s call for a dialogue.
The African Union (AU) tasked former Togolese Prime Minister, Edem Kodjo with mediating between government and opposition in the DRC to avert any tensions as the term of the incumbent comes to an end.
According to Katumbi’s statement, the national shutdown was one of four points that the opposition put forth after an August 20 meeting.
Other points were for political prisoners to be freed, the Edem Kodjo mediation was rejected and the need for the government to adhere to international resolutions and also to respect the constitution was emphasized.
No elections till July 2017, Kabila to stay on
The Electoral body in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Saturday disclosed that presidential elections in the country will be delay until at least July 2017. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) cited a lack of funding and delays in voter registration as the major factors behind the postponement.
This announcement effectively means that incumbent President Joseph Kabila will stay in power beyond the end of his constitutional two terms which expires in December this year.
This revelation has however been met with different reactions from various quarters. According to his opponents, Kabila is seeking to extend his term in office by postponing the polls.
Court ruling that Kabila can stay
A court had ruled that if the country fails to organize elections later this year, the incumbent Joseph Kabila could stay on as president. Even though he has yet to make known any ambitions to run for an ‘unconstitutional’ third term, there has been pressure from home and abroad calling on him to step down at the end of his tenure.
Kabila has ruled the country for the past 15 years following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila.
Whenever elections are held it would be the first democratic transition in the war torn country.