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‘Complications’ hold up deal to end DR Congo crisis

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(FILES) This file photo taken on December 20, 2016 shows a man screaming as people gather to protest in the neighbourhood of Yolo in Kinshasa. The government and opposition in DR Congo agreed late on December 22, 2016 on a draft deal to end a crisis sparked by President Joseph Kabila's decision to remain in office past the end of his mandate. A team of legal experts from the two sides is studying the document, under the aegis of the Congo National Episcopal Conference. It was set to be adopted at a plenary session on December 23, 2016 in the morning, to be followed by an official signing later in the day. However, sources say "complications" are holding up a final agreement. / AFP PHOTO / Eduardo Soteras

┬áThis file photo taken on December 20, 2016 shows a man screaming as people gather to protest in the neighbourhood of Yolo in Kinshasa. The government and opposition in DR Congo agreed late on December 22, 2016 on a draft deal to end a crisis sparked by President Joseph Kabila’s decision to remain in office past the end of his mandate. A team of legal experts from the two sides is studying the document, under the aegis of the Congo National Episcopal Conference. It was set to be adopted at a plenary session on December 23, 2016 in the morning, to be followed by an official signing later in the day. However, sources say “complications” are holding up a final agreement. / AFP PHOTO / Eduardo Soteras

The signing of a deal aimed at ending DR Congo’s political crisis was being held up on Friday due to “complications”, a source close to the negotiations said, dampening hopes of a breakthrough.

The unstable, mineral-rich nation has been thrust into political limbo by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down after his second and final term, which officially ended on December 20.

At least 40 people have been killed during anti-Kabila protests around the Democratic Republic of Congo since Monday, the UN human rights office said in Geneva Friday.

“Some 107 people have been injured or ill-treated and there have been at least 460 arrests,” it added.

The influential Catholic Church has been brokering talks between the government and opposition in a bid to exit the crisis, and negotiators wrapped up talks on Thursday night in an optimistic mood, leaving legal experts to finalise the text of the deal based on a working document.

“It’s certain — we will finish tomorrow,” CENCO vice-president Fridolin Ambongo had said, while an opposition source told AFP: “We’ve got everything we could have wanted.”

Lumanu Mulenda, a negotiator on the government side, had said: “The president has made enough concessions, the deal will be signed tomorrow.”

But on Friday morning a source in the Congo National Episcopal Conference (CENCO), which is presiding over the negotiations, told AFP tersely: “There have been complications.”

The working document for the deal, seen by AFP, envisages a “political transition” with fresh presidential elections to be held at the end of 2017.

The vote was supposed to be organised this year, and the government had previously said it was impossible for it to be held before April 2018.

The deal also guarantees that Kabila will not seek a third mandate — as is banned under the constitution — and lays the groundwork for a “national transition council” charged with carrying out the agreement.

In return, the opposition headed by 84-year-old Etienne Tshisekedi, accepts that Kabila would stay in power until he hands over to an elected successor, having previously demanded an immediate departure from public life.

– Risk further conflict –
Kabila, 45, has been in power since his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001.

The younger Kabila was confirmed as head of state of the vast nation of 70 million people in DR Congo’s first free post-independence elections in 2006, and re-elected in 2011 in a vote marred by allegations of massive fraud.

The UN said those killed In clashes with security forces were “mainly” people protesting Kabila’s refusal to step down.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement the high casualty figures suggested DR Congo’s security forces had shown “a serious disregard” for the need for restraint.

“Violent repression of dissenting voices and a heavy-handed and irresponsible response to demonstrations risk provoking violence in return by demonstrators and possibly even tipping the constitutional crisis over the president’s future into further conflict across the country,” the rights chief said

Despite being constitutionally banned from seeking a third term, a controversial order by the constitutional court in May said Kabila could stay on until a successor was chosen.

DR Congo has never witnessed a democratic transfer of power following polls since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Two decades ago, the country collapsed into the deadliest conflict in modern African history. Its two wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s dragged in at least six African armies and left more than three million dead.


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1 Comment
  • Nwaizu Ikechukwu Bruno

    I still advise the opposition to respect the constitutional court ruling and then build their arsenal for the checkmating of any Kabila’s move for the abrogation of the non third term rulership clause in the constitution, as well as creating an environment that will give cause for continual postponement of election In this way they will gather the support and sympathy of the international circle. They are playing into Joseph Kabila’s hand.