Congo Opposition Deplore Dictator Kabila's Tricks to Extend Regime

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Katumbi and Tshisekedi in D.C.

A propaganda video touting the “accomplishments” of dictator Joseph Kabila and ending with the statement “This man is indispensable for the Congo,” was recently released. This campaign-style video, along with other tactics like Kabila's ongoing, editorialized, paid content series in The Washington Times, is reigniting speculation that Kabila plans to cling to power in spite of the clear constitutional requirements that he relinquish his office and his own promises that elections will take place this December.

This is particularly troubling against the backdrop of Kabila’s other recent actions. Just weeks ago, he appointed three new judges to the Constitutional Court, which is responsible for resolving electoral disputes. Not surprisingly, two of his appointees, are close advisers and prominent supporters of Kabila, fueling the belief that he plans to preserve his power by controlling the courts. The move is widely viewed as another means to consolidate his grip on the country.

The opposition remain steadfast and unified.

Two weeks ago Governor Moïse Katumbi and Félix Tshisekedi, DRC opposition leaders, traveled to the United States. Mr. Katumbi, former Governor of the Katanga Province, and Mr. Tshisekedi, President of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, offered remarks at The Atlantic Council and announced that the Congolese opposition would field a unified candidate in the upcoming presidential election. Following their appearance, they issued a joint statement, saying, in part: "Together, we repeat to the people, our engagement to embody a common dream that consists in restoring within each Congolese, the pride to belong to a great democratic nation, and to prosper under a State that protects, reassures, and delivers for all citizens, the services it deserves."

They appeared jointly to reiterate the opposition’s united front and to call on Kabila to honor an agreement to hold elections in December, already two years later than mandated in the country's Constitution. The joint appearance of Gov. Katumbi and Mr. Tshisekedi underscores the DRC's desperation and sense of urgency for the U.S. and other countries to compel Kabila to step aside at the end of the year.

On May 24, the Secretary General of CENCO issued a stern statement, or “Call to Responsibility” outlining the urgency for the scheduled elections to proceed. The document outlined the Kabila regime’s serious violations of the Saint Sylvester Agreement and emphasized that the December 23 elections are critical for peace in the country.

On May 28, the Congolese Opposition issued a statement in response to an audit of the electoral register by International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF). The statement rejects the OIF’s findings that the electoral register is reliable and reads, in part: "The fear that the Congolese Political Opposition expressed during a first meeting with OIF, that OIF’s role will only be of accompanying the CENI, ended up being true. It clearly appears that OIF has come to help CENI to save it by giving its credibility to its electoral file."

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