West & Central Africa

DR Congo: The Catholic Church strikes a deal for President Kabila to leave

The Catholic Church has brokered a deal in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to get President Joseph Kabila, whose term ended 19th December, to relinquish power by the end of 2017. Kabila has been in power since 2001 when he took power after the assassination of his father. His second term has expired and is not eligible to contest but Kabila has been unwilling to go and was trying to tinker with the constitution.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference, led by Marcel Utembi, said, “I’m happy to inform you tonight that we have managed to reach the end of the tunnel. The different delegates have come to agreement.” This agreement comes after weeks of tough negotiations and even now it is not certain if Kabila will sign the documents later on Saturday.

Reports say one of the area of contention was the appointment of a new Prime Minister. The opposition led by Freddy Matungulu said “We also thought as a group that it was important that the service of the prime minister should return to the opposition,” an issue that was finally agreed on. The Bishop said,  “the two parties, the participants, the African Union and the opposition all agree that the Prime Minister should come from the opposition.”

President Kabila who used logistical issues as an excuse and the difficulty in registering voters, had delay the election processes for a new President. As part of the agreement, President Kabila will not change the constitution to enable him contest again.

Kabila’s refusal to stepped down has claimed the lives of over 40 people in public protests.

Meanwhile the Ugandan Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed over 22 people in Eringeti, a town 35 miles north of the regional hub Beni of the Kivu region on Christmas Eve. The regional official Amisi Kalonda said, “The ADF has yet again plunged the people of Eringeti and its surrounding areas into mourning,” he said from the North Kivu capital Goma. “Yesterday, they killed 10 civilians. Twelve other bodies were found (Sunday) in the surrounding villages.”

“The modus operandi is always the same,” he said, adding that the victims were either killed with knives or machetes.

For the past two years the region around Beni has been afflicted by a series of massacres that have killed over 700 civilians, most of whom were hacked to death.