Congo to Appoint Caretaker Government Until Delayed Election

CONGO, Capital Markets in Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo elections will be delayed until the voter register is updated and a new government will be appointed to run the nation until the vote, a joint delegation of the ruling party and some opposition members said.

President Joseph Kabila will remain in power until the vote is held and will in the meantime reorganize the government to include representatives of the opposition, ruling party member and Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe told reporters in the capital, Kinshasa, on Wednesday.

“We will manage the country together,” he said.

An opposition delegation led by Vital Kamerhe said it will rejoin formal negotiations on reorganizing the elections on Thursday. The group suspended participation in the talks on Monday, citing disagreement with a plan by Kabila’s ruling coalition to hold local elections before a vote for the executive, a process which they said could take years.

Thambwe’s announcement may anger many of Congo’s largest opposition parties, including Etienne Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress and the coalition of parties backing presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi, who have boycotted the talks. The parties insist that Kabila must step down when his second term ends on Dec. 19 as required by the constitution.

“Nothing justifies that Kabila stays one day longer than Dec. 19,” UDPS spokesman Felix Tshisekedi said in an interview in Kinshasa.

Planned Protests
A complete update of the voter register will be undertaken and then “presidential and legislative elections, both national and provincial, will be held in a first phase,” Edem Kodjo, the African Union facilitator of the talks, told reporters. Local elections, which should have taken place twice since 2006 but have never been held, will be organized at the same vote “if the means allow it,” he said.

The delegation said Congo would fund the whole voter-register revision independently, but didn’t define how long the process would take nor the extent of the presidential vote’s delay. The national electoral body has previously said it wouldn’t be completed until July 2017, meaning Kabila will remain in power until at least October 2017.

“I said it to two partners who saw me this morning that we are going to finance these elections,” Thambwe said. “We don’t want to be blackmailed.”

The UDPS and other opposition parties are planning protests on Sept. 19 when, according to the constitution, Kabila should call the presidential election, 90 days before the end of his term.

Kodjo said he hoped to conclude the election talks quickly by reaching a formal agreement with Kabila’s ruling coalition and Kamerhe’s opposition delegation on Sept. 17. Government supporters hope an accord can help to defuse the planned protests two days later.

Source: Bloomberg Business News


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