The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, kept his country guessing on Thursday over his political plans five months ahead of crucial elections.

DRC’s President Kabila

In a state-of-the-nation speech that had sparked intense speculation of an announcement, Kabila vowed to stand by the December 23 date for the poll, and “unequivocally respect the constitution”.

But, in a long speech enumerating his government’s policies, Kabila did not spell out whether he would seek a new term in office.

The opposition reacted angrily to the speech.

“It’s what the Congolese people have come to expect from someone who thinks he’s an eternal monarch,” said opposition lawmaker Claudel Andre Lubaya.

A spokesperson for prominent opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Progress, told AFP a “muscular reaction” would be forthcoming on Friday, without elaborating.

Kabila has been at the helm of the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa since 2001.

He was just 29 when he took over as president from his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, who was assassinated by a bodyguard.

Dozens of people have been killed in protests since late 2016, when Kabila was scheduled to stand down at the end of his second elected term, technically the last permitted under the constitution.

Kabila has kept power thanks to a constitutional clause enabling him to stay in office until a successor is elected.

Fresh elections should have been held in December 2016, but were then postponed until 2017 and are now scheduled to be held on December 23.

Source:News24

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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