Leading opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they have organized themselves under one umbrella called “Rassemblement” or “Rally” to force President Joseph Kabila to leave power.
Kabila’s second term concludes at the end of this year.
New coalition united in opposition to 3rd term
The new coalition was formed last week in Belgium and includes the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) led by veteran opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi; the Dynamic Opposition, and the G7, which recently chose the governor of Katanga Province, Moise Katumbi, as its presidential candidate.
Vidiye Tshimanga is Vice President of Alternative 2016, one of the groups making up the new coalition. He said the new alliance will be led by veteran politician Tshisekedi.
“A lot of people thought some time ago that Mr. Katumbi was the leader of the opposition, but finally everybody knows and understands that he is really new in the opposition and he cannot handle all the opposition and this very important role. But Mr. Tshisekedi who is an opponent not only of Mr. Kabila the son, but also Kabila the father, and before that an opponent of Mobutu. Finally, we all recognize in him the leadership that we need today to lead all of us,” he said.
Disunity has hurt opposition in the past
The political opposition in DRC has been plagued by disunity since 1960. For example, Vital Kamerhe, leader of the Union for the Congolese nation (UNC) did not attend the Belgium meeting.
Tshimanga said Kamerhe was represented at the Belgium meeting by two of his top lieutenants.
“Mr. Kamerhe did not come himself, but he sent his vice president and second vice president. So, the number two and number three of his party they came at this meeting in Belgium, and they signed this agreement with us. So, I supposed this means the UNC of Mr. Kamerhe is with us and understands that we have to be together in a common fight,” Tshimanga said.
Demonstrations are underway
Opposition groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been holding almost weekly nationwide rallies to force President Kabila to respect the constitution and step down at the end of his second term.
Kabila has been in power since 2001. The opposition has accused the president of purposely blocking elections so that he may stay in power.
Tshimanga said the new opposition agrees to talks with President Kabila if the president would respect UN Resolution 2277, which calls on the government and its national partners, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, to ensure a transparent and credible process towards holding presidential and legislative elections in November.
“We agree to sit with the Kabila camp if they will respect the UN Resolution 2277 and we will respect that also, and together we will find the solution to bring our country out of the mess we are in today because we don’t want any more wars,” Tshimanga said.
In addition to respecting UN Resolution 2277, Tshimanga said President Kabila must release all political prisoners and agree not to run for a third term.
He said both the government opposition and officials of the current government will discuss when to hold the election during the proposed “national dialogue” that President Kabila himself has been pushing.