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UN Warns of Possible 'Large-scale' Election Violence in DRC

FILE - Military trucks carrying Congolese troops drive down a main street after violence erupted due to the delay of presidential elections, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 20, 2016.

The U.N.’s top diplomat in the Democratic Republic of Congo warned Tuesday the country has “entered a period of extreme risk to its stability,” as the electoral crisis deepens.

“The electoral crisis has become a constitutional crisis, with deepening political polarization and no immediate resolution in sight,” Maman Sambo Sidikou, the head of the U.N. mission in DRC told the Security Council.

“Actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends, while the space for constructive political activity has shrunk further still,” he said. “If this trajectory continues, I believe large-scale violence is all but inevitable,” he warned.

Congo’s constitution limits the president to two terms, which President Joseph Kabila will complete on December 19. With barely two months until then, the
Independent National Electoral Commission has yet to set the election date, citing technical difficulties.

Meanwhile, in May, the country’s constitutional court ruled Kabila can legally remain in office until his successor is in place. The opposition disagrees with this ruling.

“A draft electoral timetable was proposed by the independent national electoral commission,” DRC’s U.N. Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita wa Lufuta told the council.

He said the national dialogue participants would agree a date for presidential elections, combined with legislative and provincial ones.

In September, the president began a national dialogue that the majority of opposition parties have boycotted.