DRC's Kabila rejects foreign pressure on elections, and Ebola hits Liberia poll a third time

Football star George Weah - who played for Chelsea and AC Milan - and the son of President Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf among 139 candidates in the race.

DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila on Monday said he would reject foreign admonitions on the electoral process in the vast central African country.

“We are always ready to receive advice, guidance and suggestions, but never injunctions,” Kabila said in a speech to both houses of parliament in Kinshasa.

He questioned the “sound basis on which non-Congolese people invite themselves to take part in the debate, however well-intentioned they might be.”

The Congolese leader is under strong international pressure, particularly from the United States and France, to step down at the end of his second elected term, in December 2016.

“We will urge leaders not to alter national constitutions for personal or political gain,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said shortly after talks with Kabila at a major US-Africa summit in Washington in August.

Kabila was propelled into office after the death of his father Laurent Kabila in 2001, at the height of a civil war that drew in six foreign armies on rival sides and became known as “Africa’s Great War”.

He won elections in 2006 and again in 2011, in which the opposition cried fraud and which foreign monitors said lacked credibility.

Last week, Kabila named a new government, more than a year after promising to appoint a cabinet of national unity.

The DRC has vast, widely coveted mineral resources, but years of neglect have left infrastructure and basic services in ruins, while serious unrest prevails in the east.

Weah, Sirleaf son in race

In Liberia meanwhile, it is a disease, not intransigence by the country’s leader, that has thrown an election off schedule.

A much-postponed election for half the seats in Ebola-hit Liberia’s Senate has been put back until the weekend—but cannot be further delayed, the country’s electoral commission said Monday.

The vote for 15 seats in the upper house of parliament has been postponed twice already as the epidemic ravaged the impoverished west African nation.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) said the poll will now be held on December 20. Football star George Weah—who played for Chelsea and AC Milan before retiring from the game in 2003—and the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf, are among the 139 candidates in the running for a seat. 

Weah, 48, ran unsuccessfully against Johnson Sirleaf for president in the country’s 2005 election. Liberia was the country worst hit by the deadly virus until it was overtaken by a surge in deaths in neighbouring Sierra Leone last week. 

At least 3,177 people have died in Liberia out of a total of 7,719 confirmed or suspected cases of the disease. 

The Supreme Court in Monrovia had suspended the resumed election campaign at the end of last month because of safely fears as the country battled to contain the outbreak. “The decision to reschedule the election from December 16 to December 20 is intended to compensate for the time lost as a result of the stay order imposed on the election and campaign activities by the Supreme Court,” NEC spokesman Joey Kennedy said in a statement.

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