DRC opposition rejects bid to postpone poll to 2018

2016-10-19 08:50
Joseph Kabila. (File: AFP)

Joseph Kabila. (File: AFP)

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Kinshasa - Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition party on Tuesday firmly rejected a move to postpone this year's presidential vote until April 2018 - handing President Joseph Kabila more than a year of extra time.

The UDPS led by veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi "rejects" the proposal mooted the previous day to delay the vote as a "flagrant violation" of the constitution, the party's secretary-general Jean-Marc Kabund told AFP.

The idea was announced on Monday by the authorities and fringe opposition groups taking part in a "national dialogue" held to reduce tensions triggered by fears that Kabila has no intention of stepping down when his mandate ends in December.

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Kabund said the postponement plan "unilaterally imposes Mr Kabila in flagrant violation of the constitution which sets the end of his mandate at December 20."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault earlier on Tuesday said the plan was "no response to the crisis".

The offer emerged after the EU threatened sanctions if the country did not hold elections in 2017.

The main opposition coalition - "Rassemblement" (Gathering) - has boycotted the "national dialogue" talks, branding them a ploy by Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his term.

It has also called for a general strike on Wednesday across the vast central African nation, to give Kabila a "yellow card".

Kabila first took office in 2001, and in 2006 a new constitutional provision limited the presidency to a two-term limit which expires in December.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  etienne tshisekedi  |  drc  |  central africa

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