Congo to Start Talks on Elections Without Main Opposition Groups

Long-delayed talks on the organization of elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo will begin on Sept. 1 without the participation of some of the country’s largest opposition parties, the African Union said.

The talks will last 15 days, according to plan e-mailed Sunday by the office of the African-Union appointed facilitator, Edem Kodjo. The negotiations may be extended if necessary, it said.

Joseph Kabila

Photographer: Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images

Presidential elections in Africa’s biggest copper producer had been scheduled for November, but the national electoral body has said the vote will have to be postponed because of technical constraints. Opposition leaders have said President Joseph Kabila purposely blocked vote preparations in order to hold on to power.

Kabila called for a national dialogue on the organization of the polls last November. His request was widely rejected by opposition parties, who said the talks were a delaying strategy.

Some opposition parties have finally agreed to join the process, now supported by international partners including the United Nations and the European Union. Congo’s largest opposition groups, however, including Etienne Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress, Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo and a coalition of parties backing presidential hopeful and former provincial governor Moise Katumbi, have all said they won’t participate.

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