Democratic Republic of the Congo ‘faces civil war’
CONGO - Opposition leaders are warning that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) faces civil war if president Joseph Kabila does not relinquish his grip on power and step down when his mandate ends.
The DRC has suffered repeated bouts of unrest since Kabila, 45, announced that elections scheduled for this month would be delayed. The country’s ruling coalition and part of the opposition recently agreed to postpone the vote to April 2018. However, the deal was boycotted by Rassemblement, the main opposition coalition, which says it violates the constitution. Congo’s powerful Catholic church also rejected the agreement. The international community has watched the continued turmoil in the vast central African state with increasing alarm. Scores of demonstrators and several policemen were killed and the offices of major opposition parties badly damaged amid widespread looting during protests in September. Kabila supporters say logistical and financial constraints mean it is impossible to hold fair polls as planned. Critics say the president, whose second term in office expires in December, is trying to cling to power by whatever means necessary. “The people will take over,” said Etienne Tshisekedi, the 83-year-old leader of both Rassemblement and the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a political party. “Kabila has performed a coup d’état against himself by signing that agreement (to delay elections), because he made an oath to protect the constitution.” Valentin Mubake, Tshisekedi’s political adviser, said civil war was “a predictable consequence” of the government’s delaying tactics. “Elections are the only solution. Anything else will lead to war. The people will take to the streets. Kabila will kill one or two million of them but he won’t be able to kill 70 million,” he said. Western states, including the US, have repeatedly told Kabila to stick to the election calendar or be prepared to surrender power. The US recently intensified targeted sanctions against senior individuals within the president’s inner circle. The UN, which has an 18,000-strong peacekeeping force in the country, has asked political leaders not party to the new deal to “seek to resolve their differences peacefully”.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd L Front) inspects the guard of honor in a farewell ceremony held for him at the airport in Moscow, Russia.(Photo: Xinhua)