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DR Congo’s Kabila Earns Praise for His Decision Not To Seek Reelection

Congolese go to the polls to elect new president in December

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila has got some compliments from the United Nations, the US, African Union and France for his decision not to seek reelection.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed as ‘progress’ Kabila’s decision.
Speaking at a regular briefing Wednesday, Guterres’ deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters that they took note of the government’s announcement that Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary had been designated as the ruling coalition’s candidate for the presidency.

“We welcome the continued progress toward the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections on Dec. 23 in accordance to the Constitution,” said Haq.

Shadary, 57, DRC’s former interior minister, now serves as the permanent secretary of the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy.

The US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the ruling coalition’s announcement of a consensus candidate other than President Kabila represents a significant step forward for Congolese democracy while French President Emmanuel Macron hailed ‘Kabila’s action for the unity and integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo.’

“Government, opposition, and civil society leaders, along with the heads of the security services share with President Kabila the responsibility of ensuring full respect for democratic norms,” Nauert said in a Thursday statement.

On the other hand, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in a statement hailed Kabila for honoring his commitment to abide by the relevant provisions of the Congolese Constitution.

Kabila’s decision not to stand for December elections, ended months of speculation whether he would respect term limits after his second term officially ended in 2016.

Kabila, 47, assumed office in 2001 after the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila.
He was elected in 2006 and reelected for a second term in 2011.

Shadary, as the ruling coalition’s candidate stands a good chance of being elected against what analysts say would be a fraudulent election.

Analysts say opposition leader Moise Katumbi would have been the strongest candidate to unseat Kabila but was successfully blocked from contesting the poll after registration ended on Wednesday.
Katumbi, who was in self-imposed exile since May 2016, in Belgium had failed to fly to Lubumbashi, his home town in southeast DRC on August 3 after his jet was denied permission to land.

His flight to Ndola in northern Zambia did not help either as efforts to cross the land border on Friday and Saturday were also futile.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President who is in the race on the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, MLC ticket has called for a unified opposition.

So how will the election work?

Prof. Georges Nzongola –Ntalaja a lecturer of African studies at the University of North Carolina told the BBC on Thursday that it did not make any sense for Kabila to keep in power.
But he said Shadary cannot win in a free and fair election.

“He can only win in a fraudulent election,” he said.
He expressed worry over the machines the Kabila government intends to use for voting, noting that many including the Francophone organization had warned that using the machines will compromise the outcome.

However, Corneille Nangaa, president of the DRC’s independent electoral commission, has previously insisted on the electoral commission using the controversial voting machines.

Nangaa said the claim that the technology is unfamiliar to many Congolese and would make results difficult to trust was based on ‘incorrect information.’

Previously, the Congolese opposition has been unable to unite under a single candidate who can present a serious threat.

Through, in the 2011 presidential election opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi garnered some 32 percent of the votes cast.

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