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DRC Opposition Calls for Nationwide Strike Tuesday

FILE - Supporters of Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi carry placards and flags as they attend a political rally in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 31, 2016.

Opposition groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have called for a nationwide strike Tuesday, hoping to force President Joseph Kabila to hold elections and step down when his second term expires at the end of this year.

Opposition boycotts ‘National Dialogue’

This came after the opposition coalition over the weekend refused to attend a dialogue with President Kabila, sponsored by the African Union and facilitated by former Togolese Prime Minister Edem Kodjo.

Martin Fayulu, leader of the Commitment for Citizenship and Development party and a member of the opposition coalition, said Kodjo is biased in favor of President Kabila.

Fayulu said the opposition will participate in dialogue under U.N. Security Council resolution 2277 which calls for discussions that respect the Congolese constitution.

“We want to demonstrate to Mr. Kabila that the people of Congo they don’t want to see Mr. Kodjo. We want the talks to take place in accordance with U.N. Resolution 2277. We are saying that Mr. Kodjo is becoming a bottleneck and has to go,” he said.

DRC Information Minister Lambert Mende denied Kodjo favors President Kabila. He has urged the opposition to join the national dialogue that is intended reach a consensus necessary for a peaceful electoral process.

Opposition complains about violence in the east

Fayulu said Tuesday’s strike is also intended to tell the Congolese people that Kabila has failed to address the violence that has been taking place in the east of the country.

“We want to tell the people of Congo that Mr. Kabila is not taking care of what is going on in the Eastern part of Congo, mainly in Beni. They are killing people, almost a mass killing, and Mr. Kabila is doing nothing. He just wants to stay in power,” Fayulu said.

The Congolese government has blamed “terrorists” for the violence in the east where 22 men and 14 women were hacked to death last week in their homes and fields.

Fayulu says this is further reason people should stay home on Tuesday and register their displeasure with the Kabila regime.

Information Minister Mende told VOA recently that the Congolese electoral commission is in charge of organizing upcoming elections, not President Kabila.

He said the commission has already announced it cannot hold elections before the end of this year because the electoral census has started and is expected to conclude in 10 months.

“I think it is not ignorance but irresponsibility because President Kabila is not in charge of organizing election. According to Congolese law, it is the electoral commission that organizes elections, and the electoral commission has already announced that there is no way to organize election before the end of this year because the electoral census has started and will not end before 10 months,” he said.

Fayulu has called for the resignation of Electoral Commission chair Cornielle Nangaa for failing to uphold the mandate given him by the constitution.

“The constitution saying in Provision 73 that the electoral commission has to call presidential election 90 days before the end of the current president’s mandate. There is no place for him to say that the election cannot be held. I think for him the only solution is to resign,” Fayulu said.