Kabila to quit as DRC president, party names new candidate

Blanche Robertson
August 10, 2018

Congo's President Joseph Kabila is not running again in December's long-delayed elections, easing concerns by the opposition and worldwide community that he would try to stay in office and positioning one of Africa's most turbulent nations for its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila will not stand in December's presidential election, a spokesman said on Wednesday, announcing that former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary would be the ruling coalition's candidate.

Mende said that Ramazani was on his way to the electoral commission headquarters in the capital Kinshasa to file his candidacy. He's also one of nine Congolese sanctioned a year ago by the European Union, which accused them of undermining democracy and abusing human rights.

He should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when he reached a two-term limit.

Kabila succeeded his father, Laurent, after his assassination in 2001 and has since maintained a strong grip over the central African nation.

Demonstrations over the delay have turned deadly, with Pope Francis and others appealing for calm after police in January used tear gas to disperse ambassadors and others at a mass at Kinshasa's Catholic cathedral to honor protesters killed.

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"What matters for the moment is that the constitution, whether willingly or not, has been respected", said Senator Jacques Ndjoli of the opposition Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) party.

"This development is another step, but there is much more to be done", she added. Shadary, 57, is the permanent secretary of Kabila's People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and a former interior minister.

The December 23 vote should now herald Congo's first democratic transition of power following decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and deadly conflict. Mr. Kabila's term formally expired at the end of 2016, but the 47-year-old repeatedly delayed.

In May 2017, the European Union slapped a travel ban and asset freeze on him for his involvement in "planning, directing or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations".

The leader of Congo's largest opposition party, Felix Tshisekedi, has registered to run. The definitive list of candidates will be published on September 19.

His supporters dismiss these concerns. Ramazani did not receive enough votes to be included in the poll's results.

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