Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could be put off till mid next year, following a compromise position arrived at between the government of President Joseph Kabila and some members of the ‘weak’ opposition political parties.
According to available information, on Wednesday the two sides agreed to hold the presidential, parliamentary and local government/provincial elections on the same day, failure of which the elections that were scheduled for November be put off till July next year after a comprehensive process that will also include updating the voter register.
The development follows clamours by the opposition delegation to the talks led by Vital Kamerhe, who had insisted that the country hold presidential elections first before the other two polls, a position that contrasts that of President Kabila’s delegation that is led by Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe, who also hinted at putting in place a ‘unity government’.
However, no dates have been set for any of the polls, while leading opposition figures like veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi have refused to take part in the dialogue, saying that the position arrived at during the dialogue will pave the way for President Kabila to manipulate the constitutional process and cling to power beyond the mandatory tw0-term cap.
The parties have since formed a coalition, the ‘Rassemblement’ (Assembly) headed by Tshisekedi, and plan to hold a demonstration in Kinshasa on Monday next week, to protest the failure to hold elections.
President Joseph Kabila Kabenge, 45, became DRC leader in January 2001 following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila.
He first organised and won elections in 2006, and according to the Constitution promulgated the same year, his two term mandate is supposed to expire this year, making him ineligible to contest.
However, since the development dawned on him, Mr Kabila has tried to change the rules of the game, several times attracting the wrath of citizens who have taken to the streets in violent protest.