EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Kabila has never said he wants 3rd term - DRC envoy

2016-10-06 06:05
Joseph Kabila. (File: AFP)

Joseph Kabila. (File: AFP)

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Cape Town – The Democratic Republic of Congo's ambassador to South Africa has rubbished allegations by the opposition that President Joseph Kabila wants to prolong his stay in power.

Media reports indicated that the central African country’s opposition feared that Kabila would not step down when his term expired in December. 

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

But in an interview with News24, Ambassador Bene M'Poko dismissed the allegations that Kabila was trying to cling on to power, saying the postponement of the elections 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.

Listen to M'Poko speaking below

The country’s electoral commission said over the weekend that it expected the polls to be delayed until December 2018. It said 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 the question asked by many was: Why did the electoral commission have to wait until Kabila’s time to step down to start talking about preparations for the elections.

According to M'Poko, DRC elections had always been difficult to organise. 

"When people talk about DRC, sometimes they forget the background of where we come from. In 1960, we got our independence and our first prime minister Patrice Lumumba was democratically elected. Jeseph Kasavubu, our first president was democratically elected. 

Lumumba only lasted for a few months and you know what happened to him. He was killed, not by Congolese... After Lumumba was killed, Mobutu [Sese Seko] was imposed upon us as a dictator for 32 years, which means that when Lumumba was killed, our democracy was killed, our democratic process disappeared. It’s only in 2005 when President Joseph Kabila became president [that] he started again the democratic process," M’poko said.

He said that the country had managed to hold peaceful and democratic elections in 2006 and 2011, although with a lot of difficulties.

International community 

"But DRC, being the size of Western Europe without much of infrastructure, we had difficulties organising these elections. We had to have hundreds of air planes coming from SA, coming from Angola, coming from everywhere to help us organise the election and to distribute the ballot papers," he said.

M'Poko said the situation had remained the same since 2006, adding that it would cost the country at least $1bn to organise an election. 

He said the international community had failed to commit to their pledge to assist in organising the polls.

"I have documents here that the international community supported us [when we told them] we needed to do a voter registration. They said they were going to fund part of it," said M'Poko.

He said that the government had agreed to pump out at least $300m, while the international community had said it "was going to pay the rest". 

"Up to now, government has dispersed $180m and the international community $0… If the international community knew that they were not going to fund the process, why did they promise?" M'Poko asked.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

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