The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has ended speculation that he would seek re-election, now well beyond his original term limit. Joseph Kabila’s decision to step down eases some fear of a slip back into devastating violence. Matthew Larotonda reports.
(REUTERS / UNC PARTY) – The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo will honor his two-term limit and not seek re-election.
His mandate first ended in 2016, but he stayed on and dozens have been killed by security forces in protests against him.
Kabila said at the time the country wasn’t ready for an election to replace him.
The DRC has since been battling an uptick in rebel and militia groups.
Its prime minister told Reuters in June that Kabila wouldn’t run, but allies of the president had since floated legal arguments justifying his right to stay on.
And, he hadn’t publicly commented on his plans.
Now the contenders are lining up for December’s vote.
Kashoun Thembo, a political cartoonist in the DRC, says it will need to go smoothly.
CARTOONIST KASHOUN “KASH” THEMBO,
“I think the best attitude to adopt right now is not to play with fire. There are so many problems, people live day by day, in never ending misery, it’s not a sustainable situation, it needs to stop. (…) If the elections are not well organized they could spark a general explosion, and no one wishes for that.”
Millions died here in civil wars at the turn of the century, and it’s been precarious ever since.
Former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary will run in Kabila’s place.
Choosing him is a sign of defiance to the international community.
The man is under EU sanctions for alleged human rights abuses.