Congo-Kinshasa: Opposition parties near deal on power transition 0

Political parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo have stopped negotiations before finalizing a power transition agreement, under which President Joseph Kabila will leave office next year. Participants in the negotiations said the talks between the opposition and the government in the DR Congo, which lasted for 12 hours, came to an end at about 5:30 a.m. local time (0430 GMT) on Saturday.

The negotiations were set to resume at 11 a.m. local time. “At that time … it will be possible to propose a final document that can be signed this afternoon,” opposition delegate Francois Mwamba said. Mwamba noted that the negotiating parties had failed to agree on some points of the deal, which was recently brokered by the country’s Catholic Church. The deal would allow President Joseph Kabila to remain in office for an additional year but the constitution could not be changed to let him run for a third term.

Under the agreement, presidential elections would also be held in 2017. The unexpected accord came after dozens of people were killed in anti-government protests this week. The United Nations put the death toll at some 40. Opposition leaders Martin Fayulu and Jose Endundo said a prime minister would be chosen from the main opposition bloc and veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi would supervise the implementation of the agreement.

Kabila has not immediately commented on the news. President Kabila’s second term in office expired on Tuesday. According to the constitution, a new president must be elected now. However, Kabila has remained in office as a presidential election scheduled for last month was postponed because of what the government said were delays in registering voters.

Kabila has been accused of trying to cling on to power. His supporters, however, say that he is committed to the constitution but stepping down from power would possibly spark a power struggle that could put his life in danger. His father, former president Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in 2001 in the country, which has never witnessed a peaceful transition of power. He took office just ten days after the assassination of his father.