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Congolese opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi demands elections be held this year

Congolese opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi demands elections be held this year

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Veteran Congolese opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi has called for the holding of elections this year and the departure of president Joseph Kabila by December 20 as scheduled.

The 83-year-old opposition leader who returned to the country last Wednesday after a 2-year absence due to ill-health, made the statements at a rally in Kinshasa on Sunday, attended by thousands of his supporters.

Tshisekedi warned the president that not sticking to the date (September 19) for the launch of the electoral process would amount to “high treason” and that the president would have to accept responsibility for whatever happens afterwards.

“The electoral body must be convened (by that date) for the presidential election. If it is not, high treason will be proved in the person of Mr Kabila, who will take responsibility for the misery of the Congolese people,” Tshisekedi said.

“From that moment, his three-month notice period at the presidential palace begins. On December 19, the notice expires and on the 20th, the house must be free.”

Tensions have been high in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the opposition accusing incumbent president Joseph Kabila who has been in power since 2001 of trying to extend his rule in spite of constitutional provisions which limit him to two terms.

The country’s Constitutional Court in May ruled that Kabila could remain in office beyond the end of his mandate if elections are not held as scheduled.

The DRC’s opposition parties last month at a meeting in Belgium formed a new alliance, “Rassemblement” (Rally) with the aim of ensuring that Joseph Kabila leaves office at the end of this year.

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