The Democratic Republic of Congo’s ruling coalition and some smaller parties besides have entered an agreement to delay next month’s elections or presidential vote to April 2018. It is a move that opposition groups in the country are very unhappy about.
DR Congo’s major opposition bloc have not released any comment to the press but they have already called for a general strike on Wednesday, which is meant to pressure the current president of DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, to leave at the end of his mandate in December.
Considering all past moves to delay the presidential vote have led to violent demonstrations with opposition groups accusing the president of trying to cling onto power, the coming strike can only be considered with foreboding.
President Joseph Kabila came into power in 2001 when his father was assassinated and although he has said that he will respect the constitution, he has not yet disavowed the possibility of attempting to change the country’s laws to enable him to run for a fresh term.
Last month the country erupted in a two-day protest which held in the capital Kinshasa and led to the death of dozens of people. The protest had come about because the government had planned delays to the presidential vote due to what authorities said were logistical problems registering millions of voters in the massive and impoverished country.
One organization that took part in the discussions which resulted in the announcement of the current postponement said that parties had agreed in talks on Saturday to give more time for voter registration and keep Kabila in office until the delayed vote. Delegates at the talks would likely ratify the decision on Monday.
The President of the Union for the Congolese Nation, Vital Kamerhe, is widely expected to become prime minister as part of the power-sharing government ushered in under the talks.
Head of the U.N. mission in Congo warned last week that the political impasse poses an “extreme risk” to stability.