DRC: National Dialogue Begins without Major Opposition Figures

KINSHASA SEPTEMBER 2, 2016 (CISA) – A national dialogue on the delayed presidential election started in Democratic Republic of Congo September 1, despite the absence of many opposition figures.

The talks which will last for two weeks between the government, opposition and civic leaders are aimed at averting a crisis when President Joseph Kabila’s term expires later this year, reported Reuters.

While some opposition figures joined the government and civil society groups for the event a newly-formed opposition coalition “Rassemblement” (Gathering) — did not.

Authorities said last month that the elections, set for November, could not be held before next July as they enroll millions of new voters. Protestors clashed with police near the venue of the talks as they were opened by African Union mediator Edem Kodjo.

Maman Sidikou, the head of the UN’s mission in DRC in as statement said: “democracy remains the only route out of the current impasse.

The alternative is violence, destruction and the deaths of innocent civilians.” President Kabila won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011 after succeeding his assassinated father, Laurent, in 2001.

Opponents accuse him of stalling the vote to hang onto power, a charge he denies.

The constitution limits him to two elected terms but the country’s highest court earlier this year ruled that he could stay in office beyond the end of his mandate in December until the election takes place.

Under the constitution President Kabila must call for elections three months before the end of his term on December 20.

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