Opposition groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo rejected President Joseph Kabila’s call for a national dialogue, saying the offer is an attempt to cling to power in Africa’s biggest copper producer.
“Kabila is no longer hiding his clear, planned and deliberate intention to overturn the constitution to maintain power,” the G7 and La Dynamique de l’Opposition groups said in a joint statement e-mailed from the capital, Kinshasa, on Monday. “It is a true constitutional coup d’etat.”
Kabila offered talks with his political opponents on Nov. 28 as the country prepares to hold a series of elections culminating in a presidential vote in November 2016. He said the dialogue will address issues including the funding of the votes, the accuracy of the voter register and the election calendar, which must now be adjusted following delays.
The G7 and La Dynamique say the president intends to use the dialogue to hold on to power by delaying the presidential vote, adjusting the constitution or proposing a transitional government under his leadership. They urged their supporters to “rise and march to save democracy and the constitution” and said they will publish a plan of action soon.
In January, opposition protests in Kinshasa left 36 people dead after clashes with the security forces, according to Human Rights Watch, the New York-based advocacy group.
It’s the first time that the G7 and La Dynamique have issued a joint statement. The two groups represent many of the country’s biggest opposition parties, including Vital Kamerhe’s Union for a Congolese Nation, Pierre Lumbi’s Movement for Social Renewal and Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo. The MLC was represented in the statement by the party’s secretary general, Eve Bazaiba, because party president and 2006 presidential runner-up Bemba is on trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes.
Kabila hasn’t specified when the dialogue will begin, though he has said he will put in place a preparatory committee to manage all aspects of its organization. He didn’t say who will join the committee.
Kabila has led Congo since 2001, when his father, President Laurent Desire Kabila, was assassinated. He won elections in 2006 and 2011; the constitution doesn’t allow him to run for another term.