Congo opposition doubts president will respect constitution

AP News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2016 9:12 AM

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's leading opposition party says it is unconvinced by assurances that President Joseph Kabila will abide by the constitution ahead of a presidential election late this year.

Kabila is due to leave office when his second and final term expires in December, but critics accuse him of plotting to stay on longer. The United Nations has warned of renewed violence and instability in a country that has never had a peaceful transfer of power.

In an apparent attempt to address mounting anxiety over the vote currently scheduled for November, the leader of Kabila's political party said this week that the president had no plans to stand for a third term.

"The head of state is in his second term, after which he has no right to run again. He doesn't intend to do so," Henri Mova Sakanyi, secretary-general of the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy, told Radio France Internationale.

But the opposition worries Kabila could stay on by delaying the vote instead of running again. The country's electoral commission has said it will be impossible to organize a credible vote by November.

Responding to the ruling party's latest statement on the vote, Bruno Tshibala, spokesman for the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress, said Tuesday that party leaders still "have the distinct impression that Kabila does not want to respect the constitution."

The party's leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, finished second in Congo's 2011 election and is expected back in the country on July 27 after an extended stay in Brussels for medical treatment.

Revision of the electoral register is scheduled to begin on July 31. The electoral commission announced Tuesday that the government had released $120 million for the process.