DRC PM re­signs but op­po­si­tion wants Ka­bila to quit

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News/worldwide -

KIN­SHASA — Con­golese Prime Min­is­ter Au­gustin Matata re­signed on Mon­day to make way for an op­po­si­tion fig­ure to take his place fol­low­ing a con­tro­ver­sial deal that ef­fec­tively ex­tends the pres­i­dent’s term in of­fice.

The de­ci­sion to de­lay pres­i­den­tial polls un­til at least late 2017 was part of a deal agreed in Oc­to­ber by the gov­ern­ment and fringe op­po­si­tion groups that has been boy­cotted as a sham by the main­stream op­po­si­tion.

The deal, which fol­lowed a “na­tional di­a­logue”, was aimed at calm­ing soar­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sions.

“I have of­fered my res­ig­na­tion as well as those of the mem­bers of my gov­ern­ment . . . to re­spond to the spirit and the let­ter of the ac­cord,” said Matata as he left a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila.

The op­po­si­tion has ac­cused Ka­bila, who has been in of­fice since 2001, of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the elec­toral sys­tem to stay in power af­ter his se­cond term ends on De­cem­ber 20.

Pres­i­dent Ka­bila was sup­posed to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion yes­ter­day when he spoke to par­lia­ment to dis­cuss “the state of the na­tion”, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment read on state me­dia.

Vi­tal Kamerhe, who led the fringe op­po­si­tion bloc that par­tic­i­pated in the na­tional di­a­logue, is the favourite to suc­ceed Matata as prime min­is­ter.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Ka­bila, Kamerhe said that the nom­i­na­tion of a new pre­mier was “im­mi­nent” and the for­ma­tion of a new op­po­si­tion-led gov­ern­ment would be com­plete within a week.

He added that the op­po­si­tion groups which boy­cotted the “na­tional di­a­logue” could still “get on board at any mo­ment. We are still open”.

The main dis­si­dent coali­tion Rassem­ble­ment (Gath­er­ing) — which has ral­lied around vet­eran op­po­si­tion leader Eti­enne Tshisekedi — has re­jected the deal that fol­lowed the “na­tional di­a­logue” and stepped up its calls for Ka­bila to leave of­fice by De­cem­ber 19 when his term ends.

Tshisekedi’s UPDS party said the res­ig­na­tion was mean­ing­less.

“The UDPS notes the res­ig­na­tion of Mr Matata,” said spokesper­son Au­gustin Kabuya, adding that it “will how­ever not re­solve the cri­sis.

The coun­try has been in a state of cri­sis since dis­puted elec­tions in 2011 re­turned Ka­bila to of­fice for a se­cond term.

A 2006 con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion lim­its the pres­i­dency to two terms.

Vi­o­lent anti-Ka­bila protests on Septem­ber 19 and 20 trig­gered by the po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity claimed 53 lives, ac­cord­ing to the UN.

A UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil del­e­ga­tion in the coun­try has called for a peace­ful tran­si­tion of power fol­low­ing the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to de­lay elec­tions.

Ka­bila took power in 2001, 10 days af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of his fa­ther, the then-pres­i­dent, Lau­rent Ka­bila.

Joseph Ka­bila was first elected to a five-year term as pres­i­dent in 2006. He then won a hotly-dis­puted elec­tion against Tshisekedi in 2011. — AFP

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