Saturday, January 24, 2015

Congo Senate Bows to Protests, Drops Reforms
Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:18AM

The upper house of the parliament, Senate, in the Democratic Republic of Congo has scrapped a proposed change to a controversial election law that would allow President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power.

The senators on Friday agreed to modify the proposed law, which had already been passed by the lower house -- the National Assembly -- in its original form.

"We have listened to the street. That is why the vote today is a historic vote,” media outlets quoted Senate President Leon Kengo Wa Dondo as saying.

Sources say a parliamentary committee will now seek to reconcile the two chambers' bills before a possible final vote.

This comes as opposition parties have been holding protests against the new electoral bill, which aims to delay presidential and parliamentary polls beyond 2016.

On Monday, violent clashes left at least four people dead and ten others wounded in the capital Kinshasa.

A coalition of opposition parties called on protesters to occupy the parliament building to stop passing any laws affecting the election.

They are demanding that the 43-year-old president step down.

Kabila came to power after the assassination of his father Laurent-Desire Kabila in 2001. Five years later, Kabila won the country’s first free election since its independence from Belgium back in 1960.

The leader began his second and last five-year constitutional term following a disputed vote in 2011.

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