- Title: Congo leader warns against foreign "interference" in crisis
- Date: 15th November 2016
- Summary: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (NOVEMBER 15, 2016) (REUTERS) CONGO PRESIDENT JOSEPH KABILA STANDING BY FLAG IN PARLIAMENT BUILDING KABILA WALKING UP TO PODIUM
- Embargoed: 30th November 2016 18:35
- Keywords: Congo DRC Kabila constitution election
- Location: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
- City: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
- Country: Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00158K3OSN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Congolese President Joseph Kabila warned against foreign "interference" in the country's political crisis on Tuesday (November 15) in an address to parliament in which he also promised elections, without saying when they would be held.
Kabila appeared to be reacting to remarks by some U.N. Security Council diplomats, who visited Congo at the weekend to push for a peaceful transition of power. They were hoping to avert widespread violence when the president's mandate runs out on Dec. 19.
Their visit aimed to break the deadlock over elections, which have been repeatedly delayed and are now not expected until 2018. Some officials raised concerns when Kabila declined to answer directly questions about whether he would try to change the constitution so he could run again.
Congo's prime minister and cabinet resigned on Monday (November 14) as part of an agreement that extends Kabila's tenure and should pave the way for a new cabinet, with posts for some of those opposition figures who agreed to the election delay. The main opposition bloc, however, has rejected it.
"The Congolese have shown that ... they can responsibly resolve their differences," Kabila told lawmakers to applause that filled the room.
Kabila also said that elections would be held in a few months but did not give a date.
"I invite the Congolese political class to actively prepare to go and face the people because in a few months, the electoral register will be ready and the election will be held," Kabila said.
Kabila said that he denounces all interferences in the internal affairs of the country.
"All countries, like all member states of the United Nations, have the right to have their sovereignty respected," he said.
However, pressure on Kabila has come as much from inside Congo as from outside. More than 50 people were killed when security forces clashed with protesters calling for the president to step down in September.
Many fear that the political impasse will lead to more chaos and bloodshed in the vast Central African nation, where millions died in regional conflicts between 1998 and 2003.
Kabila blamed the violence squarely on his opponents.
Kabila's critics say his aim is to change the constitution, which limits him to two terms in office, in order to secure a third.
In talks with them, though, he raised the possibility of the Congolese people changing the constitution, "if they so desire", apparently leaving the door open for a referendum to lift term limits, as several other African leaders have done.
In September, Congolese opposition activists blocked roads and burned tyres and security forces fired shots in the capital Kinshasa amid mounting concerns that Kabila planned to delay the election and hold on to power.
The protests, in the Ngaba and Yolo districts of the capital, erupted ahead of a planned march to press for Kabila's resignation. Dozens of people have died and many others were arrested in similar protests since last year.
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