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DR Congo - 2017 Elections

An agreement was struck 23 December 2016 that would lead to President Kabila stepping down at the end in 2017. The agreement will deliver the Democratic Republic of the Congo's first peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. Opposition representatives have agreed to the deal. Kabila cannot run for a third term and a prime minister will be named from the main bloc of opposition parties. The main opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi will oversee the implementation of the deal.

The government and opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 31 December 2016 reached a deal on President Joseph Kabila's fate, ending a political crisis that sparked months of deadly unrest. Under the terms of the deal, Kabila will stay until the "end of 2017" - by which time there will be simultaneous elections for Presidenet, parliament, and lcoal governments.

A transitional government will be put in place by March 2017. A transition council will be established, headed by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. In addition, a prime minister will be named from the opposition ranks.

The negotiations, launched on December 8, took place under the aegis of the influential Catholic Church, which had initially set Christmas Day as the deadline for a deal. The talks were launched by the Roman Catholic Church to ward off violence as Kabila's second and final mandate ended on December 20 with no sign of him stepping down and no election in sight. The final deal was signed after 13 hours of negotiation on Saturday and only after several last-minute hitches nearly derailed an accord.

One of the sticking points was the issue of a referendum. The government representatives said they wanted to reserve the constitutional right provided by Article 5 to have a referendum before elections are held in 2017. But they didn't say what the vote would be about. The opposition said they wanted to remove any loopholes from this agreement. They of course opposed the referendum and said the government was trying to keep President Kabila in power.

According to a working document for the deal, Kabila guarantees that he will not seek a third mandate. In return, the opposition accepted the president remain in office until handing over to an elected successor. The deal would prohibit President Joseph Kabila from changing the constitution to extend his mandate and run for a third term.

Diplomats feared violence could gain momentum and trigger a conflict reminiscent of the wars from 1996 to 2003 that killed millions of people, sucked in more than half a dozen neighbouring armies and saw armed groups clash over its vast mineral wealth and use mass rape as a strategic weapon.

Kabila named a former member of the largest opposition party as prime minister 07 April 2017, a move likely to further divide Kabila's opponents after talks to negotiate his exit from power broke down last week. A statement from the presidency named Bruno Tshibala the prime minister of a new transitional government meant to organise a presidential election by the end of this year following Kabila's refusal to step down when his mandate expired in December. Tshibala was expelled from the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Congo's largest opposition party, in March 2017 after he contested the designation of successors to veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in February 2017.

Under the deal struck with the opposition in December 2016, Kabila can stay in office until after an election required to be held by the end of this year. But negotiations to implement the pact collapsed in early April 2017 and Tshibala's nomination is almost certain to weaken fledgling efforts to make Kabila abide by it.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2017 19:36:49 ZULU