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Tentative transition deal announced in DRC

Ole Tangen Jr AFP, Reuters
December 23, 2016

While the deal is awaiting final approval, an agreement has reportedly been struck in the DRC that would lead to President Kabila stepping down at the end of 2017. Opposition representatives have agreed to the deal.

Afrika Demokratische Republik Kongo -  Delly Sesanga spricht zu den Medien
Image: Reuters/T. Mukoya

Politicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) agreed in principle to a deal that would see current President Joseph Kabila hand over power to a transitional government with fresh presidential elections scheduled for the end of 2017. Kabila refused to vacate his position this week after his mandate ended stating that the mechanisms for a proper election were not in place.

Part of the agreement is that Kabila cannot run for a third term and a prime minister will be named from the main bloc of opposition parties. It is reported that the main opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi will oversee the implementation of the deal. The deal was the result of meetings between the government and members of the opposition that were organized by the Catholic church.

"Kabila stays for one year," Martin Fayulu, a member of the opposition, told Reuters. "He will not try to stand for a new term."

Demokratische Republik Kongo Proteste gegen Kabila
Dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed since Kabila's mandate ended this weekImage: Reuters/T. Mukoya

However Jean Marc Kabund, the secretary general of Congo's largest opposition party, the UDPS, told Reuters that the deal is not yet set.

"Today is the last day (of negotiations)," he said. "It's make it or break it."

Lumanu Mulenda, a negotiator for Kabila's government told the AFP that "the president has made enough concessions, the deal will be signed tomorrow."

Many attribute the involvement of the Catholic church for the progress toward an agreement.

"It remains to be seen whether the process is robust enough for the electoral processes to be worked out in time," said  Ayo Johnson, director of Viewpoint Africa.

"People are asking for real change, for a proper handover from military to civilian from civilian to civilian. They want continuity in governance," he said.

More casualties reported

The UN's Joint Human Rights Office DRC (UNJHRO) is reporting that at least 40 people have been killed in the capital Kinshasa, as well as in Lubumbashi, Boma and Matadi and another 460 arrested this week during protests against President Kabila.  

"Such high casualty figures suggest a serious disregard of the need to exercise restraint in policing demonstrations," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement.

Protests erupted on Tuesday after the president's mandate officially ended. Dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed in the DRC since Kabila announced his intention not to step down in September.