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DR Congo’s Kabila ‘not to stand for re-election’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo, taken on September 23, 2017, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila Kabange waits to address the 72nd Session of the United Nations General assembly at the UN headquarters in New York. (By AFP)

President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila has reportedly announced that he will not be seeking a third term in long-delayed elections in December.

The announcement was made through Lambert Mende, a government spokesman, on Wednesday, who also said that Kabila’s ruling coalition had nominated former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as its presidential candidate for the December 23 vote.

Flanked by supporters, Ramazani filed his candidacy at the headquarters of the national electoral commission in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa later in the day.

“[Kabila] said there would be no problem. He said there would be no third term. Today, he has kept his promise,” Ramazani said in a brief address to reporters. “It is a great honor for me and, with time, we are going to offer a social program.”

Former Congolese interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary is pictured at the Electoral Commission in Kinshasa, the DR Congo, on August 8, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Wednesday afternoon was the electoral commission’s deadline for candidates to register, with reports saying that eight other candidates had also registered to run, including some opposition candidates.

“What matters for the moment is that the constitution, whether willingly or not, has been respected,” said Senator Jacques Ndjoli, a member of an opposition party, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo. “Despite the multiple attempts to circumvent the constitution, President Kabila finally understood that the supreme law applies to everyone.”

Shadary has been a key supporter of Kabila and his tenure as interior minister was marked by a violent crackdown on opposition politicians and their supporters as well as the arrest of activists.

Kabila is said to remain at the head of his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and will be eligible to run again in 2023.

Kabila took power after the assassination of his father, Laurent, and won subsequent presidential elections in 2006 and 2011.

The 47-year-old leader’s most recent term was officially due to end in late 2016, but the election was postponed as rival factions tried to negotiate a way to avoid a recurrence of deadly violence during the vote.

An anti-Kabila protest in September 2016 was violently repressed and left dozens of people dead. The Congolese government then banned public demonstrations.

The DR Congo, rich with mineral wealth but plagued by violence, has not had a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

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