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DRC: Protests begin as Kabila stays on

DRC: Protests begin as Kabila stays on

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Gunfire could be heard in several districts of Kinshasa early Tuesday as demonstrators demanded that Kabila steps down after his mandate expired at midnight.

A chief diplomat to Congolese president Joseph Kabila had confirmed on Monday that the president will remain in office when his mandate expires to save the country from chaos.

He stressed that Kabila can only step down when a new president is elected but elections are not due until next year.

The government and elections officials have blamed logistical and financial problems for the delay in the vote, currently scheduled for April 2018.

“If for any reason, the president yielded to the pressure, as he is being asked to do, and I do not see that he is going to yield to any pressure, if he resigned or anything else, he would then be violating the constitution and he could then be put on trial because he would plunge the country into an indescribable chaos,” Barnabe Kikaya, chief diplomat to DR Congo president said.

Reacting to the calls for Kabila to step down, opposition leader Ettiene Tshisekedi called on the population to protest peacefully.

“I launch a solemn appeal to the Congolese people  not  to recognise the…illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila and to peacefully resist (his) coup d’etat,“  Tshisekedi said.

Some opposition leaders had agreed Kabila can remain in office until elections hold in April.

The constitutional court has also ruled that Kabila, leader since his father was assassinated in 2001, can stay on.

The international community has called on Kabila to step down so as to avoid triggering massive crisis and possibly another civil war.

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