EXCLUSIVE: 2018 is too far to hold elections, says DRC opposition

2016-10-22 10:01
File: An image grab taken from AFPTV shows DRC police trying to contain a protest in Beni. (AFP)

File: An image grab taken from AFPTV shows DRC police trying to contain a protest in Beni. (AFP)

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Cape Town – Democratic Republic of Congo's opposition coalition has called for elections to be held in 2017, as they maintained that President Joseph Kabila must step down.

This came after authorities and "fringe opposition groups" taking part in a "national dialogue" held to reduce tensions in the country, signed a deal on Monday which would allow Kabila to stay in power until April 2018. The move effectively delayed the presidential vote scheduled for this year.

In an interview with News24, spokesperson for the coalition Bonga Bogaine maintained that it was not feasible for the central African country to hold its elections in 2018. 

"They are pushing the election to 2018 and we are saying 2018 is very far. In order to protect our constitution, we have to hold it at least in 2017," said Bogaine.

Listen to Bogaine speaking below.

Kabila first took office in 2001, and in 2006 a new constitutional provision limited the presidency to a two term limit which expires on December 20. 

A wave of deadly protests pitting police against demonstrators hit the DRC in late September, as the opposition demanded Kabila’s resignation.

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But the DRC Ambassador to South Africa Bene M'Poko told News24 recently that Kabila was not trying to cling on to power, adding that the postponement was meant to ensure that issues relating to voter registration were dealt with.

"President Kabila has never said he wanted [a] third term. He started the democracy in the DRC. He wants to leave DRC in a good frame of a democratic process. That’s all he is concerned [about]. He has never said he wanted a third term in office. Those are allegations by the opposition," M'Poko said. 

The country's electoral commission also said recently that it required at least "504 days starting from July 31, 2017 to deal with a string of challenges" in its bid to organise the presidential and legislative election.

But Bogaine dismissed this as a tactic to keep Kabila in power.

"We've got of course a big country but it doesn't mean we can't hold the elections. We believe we can still have all the technical matters sorted out… and by end of 2017 we can have the elections. It's not a big issue sorting out the technical issues. They are trying to remain in power without any mandate," said Bogaine.

He added: "Let him (Kabila) go…. That's the way we can keep our country going forward."

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

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