Congo’s government has said it will be too expensive to hold national elections in 2017, suggesting that an already-delayed vote will be pushed back even further. The country’s budget minister, Pierre Kangudia, said at a press conference in Kinshasa on Wednesday that it would be difficult to raise the funds purportedly needed to hold the vote. “Even if the outlook appears to be improving, it will be difficult to think that we can mobilize $1.8 billion this year,” said Kangudi, according to Radio Okapi, a U.N.-backed Congolese news source.
President Joseph Kabila was due to step down in December 2016, but has remained in power after the country failed to organize elections. Opponents have accused Kabila of attempting to delay the vote in a bid to change the constitution so that he can run for a third term. Kabila’s camp have denied the allegations.
The government and the main opposition coalition, known as Rassemblement, agreed in principle a transition deal on New Year’s Eve. The deal stipulated that elections would be held before the end of 2017 and that a transitional government—including a prime minister from the opposition bloc—be appointed to oversee the process.