United Nations Says Talks the Only Way to Avoid Congo Crisis

The United Nations urged political leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo to commence long-awaited talks on the organization of presidential and legislative elections, saying it’s the only way to avoid violence.

“An inclusive and credible dialogue among Congolese stakeholders is the only realistic way to defuse political tensions, overcome the electoral impasse and prevent violence,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Security Council on Thursday in New York.

Congo, Africa’s largest copper producer and a country that’s never had a democratic transfer of power, is scheduled to hold polls in November. President Joseph Kabila, who’s been in office since 2001, hasn’t yet said whether he will step down, in line with a constitution that limits the president to two terms.

Kabila last November called for a national dialogue on the elections, a suggestion rejected by many of Congo’s opposition parties, who see it as a strategy to delay elections and hold on to power. Technical constraints such as the time taken to update the voter register, which will probably delay the voting, mean the ruling party and opposition must reach an agreement, the UN said.

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