Congo Leaders Agree on December Elections to End Kabila Rule

  • Kabila hasn’t yet signed accord brokered by Catholic Church
  • At least 40 died in protests after he overstayed mandate

Democratic Republic of Congo’s ruling party and opposition leaders have signed a deal designed to end President Joseph Kabila’s rule and halt the violence that has erupted over his refusal to step down.

Under the agreement reached late Saturday, delayed presidential, legislative and provincial elections will be held in December, after which Kabila will leave. Kabila, in power since 2001, has not yet signed the accord, which was mediated by the country’s powerful Catholic Church.

“Work must continue, political stability must be safeguarded by implementing every point of this new political roadmap,” the head of the United Nations mission in the Congo, Maman Sidikou, said in a statement e-mailed Sunday, shortly after the agreement was reached.

Elections in Africa’s biggest copper producer were to have been held in November but were postponed by the electoral commission, which cited financial and logistical constraints. Kabila’s second and final term was to have ended on Dec. 19.

An earlier political agreement that would have allowed Kabila to remain in power until at least April 2018 was rejected by most of Congo’s opposition parties, which said the president was purposely delaying the votes. At least 40 people died last week in protests against the president.

The new agreement has broader support, but meeting the new election timeline will be difficult. The national election commission had previously said it required at least 17 months to complete a voter registration process and hold the polls.