Two opposition officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo are calling on President Joseph Kabila to step down at the end of his term next year, saying the constitution bars him from seeking a third term.
This came after the Independent National Electoral Commission has set presidential and parliamentary elections for November 27, 2016 if certain conditions are met, including the availability of funds to organize the vote.
Kabila has not said whether he’s going to seek a third term. His spokesman, Lambert Mende, told VOA recently Kabila has said he will respect the constitution.
Albert Moleka is a spokesman for the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and Martin Fayulu is leader of the Commitment for Citizenship and Development.
They both said during a visit to our Washington studio this month that Kabila has been laying the groundwork to run for a third term.
“I think, since after the 2011 election, it’s been clear that Kabila’s camp was emphasizing a third term because, back in March 2012, the secretary general of his party (PPRD) went to Katanga and tried to speak to the leaders into supporting a third term for Kabila. The second strategy that is most recent was to change the electoral law so that the presidential election would be conditioned by the holding of a census,” Moleka said.
Last month, the ruling majority in the Congolese senate agreed to remove articles in a proposed law that required the completion of a vast census before the 2016 election.
Fayulu said all Kabila has to do is follow the constitution and stop introducing new initiatives.
“Now they said that the prerequisite for having elections is having a census. Why? They already called for the census in 2009, five years ago. Why did they not organize the census at that time? Why today? We are saying no way. We are telling Mr. Kabila that he has to go according to the constitution,” Fayulu said.
Fayulu said the opposition has put in place measures to ensure their unity during the 2016 election.
“First of all to see that we are ready, we have signed what we called the ‘Truth Contract.’ Our objective is to consolidate democracy. Our objective is to respect the constitution. Our objective is that Mr. Kabila must go. Secondly, we have put place principles and values that [all] of us must respect,” he said.
Fayulu said the first thing the opposition must do is put in place foundations to ensure their unity.
“If we start today saying that I’m a candidate and you are a candidate, we will start fighting among ourselves and then people from [the] Kabila side they will come and divide us,” Fayulu said.
Mende accused opposition politicians of using the disagreement over a proposed legislation to plan what he called a violent revolution.
Moleka said protesters are sending Kabila a clear message that they do not want a third Kabila term.