DR Congo says donors violating its sovereignty; urges them to fund $1.2bn elections

Diplomats had asked country's leader to focus only on presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2016.

DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila rejected a request by diplomats to scale down the country’s election timetable and asked donors to help fund the entire $1.2 billion process, a government spokesman said.

Kabila is committed to holding votes for local authorities as well as presidential and legislative ballots, Media Minister Lambert Mende said in an e-mailed statement Friday.

Diplomats had asked the 44-year-old leader to focus only on presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2016.

“The government takes issue with the idea that there exists some elections that are more important than others,” according to the statement. Mende said donors were imposing new conditions on the vote and violating Congo’s sovereignty.

Congolese opposition leaders have urged the government to postpone local elections until after the presidential and parliamentary vote as well.

Kabila’s opponents are concerned that he will try to extend his second and final term past its mandate, which ends in December 2016.

Congo’s constitution forbids Kabila from running for a third term. He has yet to comment on his plans. The government has invited opposition leaders to participate in a political dialogue to discuss the elections, which are set to begin in October with a provincial assembly vote.

‘Personal reasons’
In neighbouring Congo Republic, an opposition alliance said it would take all legal means necessary to prevent a change to the country’s constitution that would allow the president to extend his term.

The alliance, known as Alternance 2016, or Change 2016, “rejects any notion of constitutional change for personal reasons,” Rene Serge Blanchard Oba, leader of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy, said in a statement e-mailed from the capital, Brazzaville, on Friday.

Altering the charter would be “politically disastrous and socially explosive,” he said.

Supporters of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, in power for all but five years since 1979, are calling for an overhaul of the constitution to allow the 71-year-old leader to seek re- election in a vote scheduled for 2016.

The 2002 charter limits the number of presidential terms to two and stipulates that the age of candidates cannot exceed 70.

The opposition boycotted and challenged the results of the past two votes following the end of a civil war, in 2002 and 2009. Prior to that, Nguesso ruled for a postwar transition period and from 1979 to 1992.

Protests erupted in Burundi in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek a third term in office, in violation of the East African nation’s constitution.

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