Wednesday, August 08, 2018

DR Congo's Kabila in Talks on Successor Ahead of Election Deadline
07 August 2018 - 17:03

DR Congo's president Joseph Kabila addresses a news conference at the State House in Kinshasa on January 26, 2018.

DR Congo president Joseph Kabila scheduled talks on Tuesday with allies to discuss hand-picking a candidate to run in upcoming elections on the eve of a key campaign deadline, sources said.

Members of a pro-Kabila alliance known as the Common Front for Congo (FCC) "have been called to an important meeting this evening at Kingakati," said a minister, referring to the presidential residence on the outskirts of Kinshasa.

Another source, close to Kabila, said: "It's not a secret anymore - it's about naming a candidate for our presidential platform."

Candidates have until late Wednesday to file their bid for the December 23 poll - a ballot seen as crucial for the future of the notoriously unstable country.

Kabila, in power since 2001, should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when his constitutional two-term limit expired. He has invoked a constitutional clause enabling him to stay on as caretaker.

But he has left everyone guessing whether he will seek to run again, perhaps by arguing that this is permissible because of a revision of the constitution in 2006.

The uncertainty has ratcheted up political tensions, leading to anti-Kabila protests that have been bloodily repressed.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence in 1960.

Kabila, 47, has been at the helm since 2001, taking over from his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was assassinated by a bodyguard.

His tenure over the vast mineral-rich country has been marked by a reputation for corruption, inequality and unrest.

Many provinces are in the grip of armed conflict and millions have had to flee their homes, many flocking to Uganda, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia.

After Wednesday's deadline for applications, the definitive list of candidates is to be announced on September 19.

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