President Joseph Kabila’s Power Extended

By Gaby Ndongo

The recent president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila, has reached a compromise during the course of the weekend to extend his rule until April 2018 – instead of the 20th of December 2016. Most importantly with the help of a prime minister who will be chosen from an opposition party.

“This forms part of the agreement signed by the ruling party and some [smaller] opposition parties at the end of talks early Sunday dawn as part of the national dialogue”, reported by Ismail Akwei of Africa News.

Certain political parties (and consequently their constituencies) are opposing this compromise. The opposition block against this approach consists of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) that is led by Étienne Tshisekedi, former prime minister of Zaire, who did not participate in the discussion. Furthermore, UDA whose leader is Martin Mukonkole; moreover, the New Congolese Civil Society under the leadership of Tshombela Jonas, who finds this agreement as exclusive.

On the other hand, there is a likelihood of Vital Kamerhe, the president of another opposition party (the Union for the Congolese Nation, UNC) to become the prime minister of the interim government during the transition period that ends in April 2018 as maintained within the compromise reached on Sunday. To be more precise, it will be some sort of power-sharing process to the election.

Hence, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has a vital role to contribute in ensuring that the deadline is met but with its current logistical and financial difficulties one wonders if it will have the autonomy to operate precisely as required.

Nonetheless, the negative impact of the DRCs recent upset due to a postponed election has taken to its feet. Evidence of the former are several sanctions imposed on government officials having close ties with the president, Joseph Kabila, and/or opposing the early election. Belgium and the United States of America (USA) are amongst many other nations to institute sanctions either in the form of financial assistant or a visa duration. In addition, “28 European Union countries are requesting to sanction some individuals who oppose early elections”, Ismail Akwei reports.

Nevertheless, time will tell all about the changes that this agreement will bring about. For now, “Congo’s main opposition block has already called a general strike for Wednesday to press Kabila to leave at the end of his mandate in December,” says an Aljazeera news source. If such a mobilisation succeeds, brutal police conduct should probably be expected as well as its fatalities – deaths, injuries and the like.

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