Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila vowed delayed elections to select his successor will take place as planned this year. Presidential and parliamentary votes have been delayed since 2016, after the electoral commission failed to organize them on time. The central African nation, which is the world’s largest cobalt producer, hasn’t had a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. “I reaffirm the irreversible character of holding the elections planned for the end of this year,” Kabila told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. “Everything will be implemented in order to guarantee the peaceful and credible character of these polls.”
Kabila, in power since his father was assassinated in 2001, nominated his preferred candidate to replace him in August, bringing to an end long-running speculation he intended to defy a two-term constitutional limit and run for office again. The exclusion of major rivals and aspects of the polls’ preparation have led opposition leaders to say the elections won’t be credible.
The 47-year-old leader’s decision in 2016 to stay on beyond the end of his second mandate provoked fears he’d seek to change or reinterpret the constitution and sparked sporadic protests in which security forces killed dozens of people.