UN tells DRC to stick to election timetable

New York - The UN Security Council on Tuesday warned that the Democratic Republic of Congo must stick to a December 2018 date for holding elections and ensure there are no more delays.

In a unanimous statement, the council gave its response to the decision of the election commission in Kinshasa to hold presidential, legislative, regional and local elections on December 23, 2018.

"Now that the 23 December 2018 has been set as the date for elections, the members of the Security Council emphasised the critical importance of ensuring the elections are not postponed further," said the statement.

The council has been pressing Congolese authorities to announce a timetable for the elections, which could pave the way for the first peaceful transition of power in the vast resource-rich country.

Elections were scheduled to be held by the end of 2017, under a political deal with the opposition aimed at avoiding bloodshed after President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his second mandate ended last December.

Council members called on Congolese authorities to "take all the necessary measures without delay to ensure that this new calendar is scrupulously adhered to".

They called on all political sides to refrain from violence and threatened "to act accordingly" against those who impede the elections, a veiled reference to possible sanctions.

The elections must be organised "with the requisite conditions of transparency, credibility and inclusivity, and lead to a peaceful transfer of power," the statement said.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley traveled to the DRC in October to press for a timetable for elections and the commission released the date shortly afterwards.

In power since 2001 when he took over from his assassinated father Laurent, Kabila refused to step down at the end of his second and final term in office in December 2016.

Kabila may be facing unpopularity at home and pressure abroad, but his position does not seem in immediate threat.

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