A man looking at election board in Congo

Africa In The News International

No Congo election until mid-2019, says electoral commission

KINSHASA, Oct 11– A long-delayed election in
Democratic Republic of Congo to replace President Joseph Kabila
cannot take place until at least April 2019, the electoral
commission said, a schedule certain to enrage opponents who say
Kabila is clinging to power.



The polls were originally scheduled for November 2016. The
schedule outlined by the electoral commission would torpedo an
agreement between Kabila’s representatives and his opponents
that the election would take place before the end of this year.



Dozens of people died last year in protests against Kabila’s
refusal to step down at the end of his term. Parts of the
country are in the hands of insurgents who say they will not
stop fighting while he remains in power.



Congo’s electoral commission said in a statement following a
meeting with civil society representatives on Tuesday that it
would need at least 504 days to organise the poll once voter
registration is completed.



Enrolment began in parts of the country’s
insurrection-ravaged Kasai region in mid-September and the
commission says it will, in principle, take about three months.
That means the vote could not be organised until April 2019 at
the earliest.



The commission is expected to release a calendar for the
presidential and other elections this month.



The opposition accuses Kabila of trying to cling to power by
postponing elections until he can find a way to remove
constitutional term limits that prevent him from standing for
re-election, as his counterparts in neighbouring Rwanda and
Congo Republic have done.



Kabila, who took power after his father Laurent Kabila was
assassinated in 2001, denies he intends to remain in office, and
says the election delays are due to difficulties enrolling
millions of voters and mobilising hundreds of millions of
dollars in financing.



Congo has never experienced a peaceful transition of power
and Kabila’s refusal to step down last year has fuelled mounting
insecurity across the country, where millions died in regional
conflicts between 1996-2003, most from hunger and disease.



An insurrection in Kasai has killed up to 5,000 people and
displaced 1.4 million more since last August, and militia
violence has also spiked in the eastern borderlands, where
dozens of armed groups are active.



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