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Kabila defends poll postponement, 'fights' for 10m unregistered voters

Kabila defends poll postponement, 'fights' for 10m unregistered voters

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has defended the need to postpone elections in the country. According to him, the move will afford some 10 million unregistered youth the opportunity to partake in the political process.

Kabila said the postponement will also ensure the country is better prepared for the polls, he was responding to accusations that the government is dragging its feet to help him to cling onto power.

Congo’s electoral commission said on Saturday it expected polls to be delayed until December 2018. Kabila is ineligible to contest whenever the polls are held because he his second term runs out this December.

“We have decided to delay the elections to avoid locking out a huge number of people – most of them young voters. As many as 10 million unregistered voters could miss out on the chance to vote if we proceed with the elections,” Kabila told journalists in Dar es Salam.

The DRC, a former colony of Belgium has yet to have a peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960. Protests over Kabila’s perceived attempts to extend his 15 years in power have led to clashes with security forces several times in the past year.

Scores of people have been killed in the violence.

He has in the past stated that the elections will be subject to the availability of a voters register. The government have also pointed to logistical and budgetary constraints as reasons for the delays.

But diplomats and observers fear increasing anger among Kabila’s opponents and a growing political crisis could trigger a repeat of civil wars that killed millions of people between 1996 and 2003. Kabila brushed off such concerns.

“There is no political crisis in Congo … what is happening at the moment is just some political tension ahead of elections, which is a normal thing in many parts of Africa,” he said.

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