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DRC Mulls Implications of President Kabila's Speech

FILE - DRC President Joseph Kabila.
FILE - DRC President Joseph Kabila.

For the past week, many people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been discussing a rare public speech that President Joseph Kabila made Sunday at a meeting of his ruling coalition, the AMP.

The president was reacting to a public letter written by seven political parties last month, in which they warned him against trying to stay in power beyond his constitutional two-term limit.

Days after the letter appeared, the seven parties - known as the G7 - were expelled from the AMP.

But speaking over the weekend, the president suggested the constitution is not an issue.

"I don't remember," Kabila said, "having organized a meeting with the majority to raise the question of revising the constitution. I never raised that question.

According to some media, his remarks imply that he will respect the constitution and the AMP will soon choose another candidate for the elections in November 2016.

Opposition UNC party spokesman Stephane Mashukano, in Goma, does not agree.

"If they needed to win the elections they would have presented a successor already, but that's an internal problem for them, which is why the G7 left," said Mashukano. "If the president really wanted to stop all the rumors why does he not state clearly, I will not be standing at the next elections?'"

A spokesman for the president's party in Goma, Paluku Muhaya, told VOA that the majority still has a year in which to choose a candidate, and the president will respect the constitution.

One of Kabila's supporters, North Kivu governor Julien Paluku, described the G7 parties at a rally this week as rats abandoning ship and said it was wiser to stay on board with the lifeboats.

This was the first rally that Paluku had held in years and it ended with him singing.

"Anyone who tells you the AMP is finished is a liar," he sings to the same tune and almost the same words as an old song about former President Mobutu Sese Seko's ruling party.