The Democratic Republic of the Congo's opposition Rassemblement is hopeful that talks with the government in Kinshasa will end Friday, paving the way for a smooth transition and possible elections early next year.
Freddy Mbuyamu Matungulu, leader of the opposition Congo Nabiso Party, says he is optimistic that negotiations will reach a productive conclusion soon. He also says President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down after his second and final term expired December 19 is a flagrant violation of the constitution and an affront to DRC citizens.
“Kabila is no longer the head of state here, and I think it's important that we get to an agreement as soon as possible so that we can make sure that we have an orderly management of the state of affairs between now and the elections,” Matungulu said.
"What we are working on is the outline of a political settlement that would put the country in a position to sort of restore some level of efficiency in management of the services so that we know if we agree on a deadline for holding these elections."
Officials of the government and the electoral commission have said it would take the country more than a year to adequately prepare credible elections.
Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, Kabila's chief diplomatic adviser, told VOA that Kabila would peacefully hand over power after the technical challenges of organizing the elections were resolved. He said the country faced similar problems in 2005, which forced the elections to be postponed to 2006.
"Even the United Nations mission in the Congo came up with a statement … saying that because of technical problems, it would be almost impossible to organize elections in the Congo this year,” Karubi said. "What we in the Congo want is peaceful, transparent, quiet elections that nobody is going to contest."
Opposition and civil society organizations have called for additional international pressure to force Kabila to hand over power to a transitional leader, saying he is responsible for creating the current constitutional crisis.
"We think it is possible to organize these elections in 2017,” Matungulu said. "We are all looking into this situation to determine who we think would rule the country between now and then. … I think it is important just to make sure that, given that we haven't had an election, we cannot have a normal presidency anymore."