A ruling by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s top court approving an electoral commission request to postpone the country’s presidential election by 18 months has compounded fears President Joseph Kabila may try to extend his rule for a third term. The constitutional court ruled in favour of the electoral commission on Monday, which filed a petition last month to delay the November poll until April 2018, saying it lacked the funds and time to ensure the registration of all new voters. “After a few hours of [deliberation] DR Congo’s highest court decided to approve the electoral commission’s request, which asked for a deferment of the presidential election that was due to be held before the end of the year,” FRANCE 24’s Thomas Nicolon reported from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa. “But both the electoral commission and the constitutional court agreed that the enlistment of all new voters was a priority.”
The decision came as participants in an African Union-mediated “national dialogue” reached a similar agreement on Monday to push back the vote, as well as form a new government with an opposition prime minister until elections can be held.
Although the talks were attended by Kabila supporters and part of the opposition, they were boycotted by the country’s main opposition coalition Rassemblement (“Gathering”), which has since called for a general strike on Wednesday.
“There still is a part of the opposition that denies everything that comes out of this dialogue, because they believe the aim of this dialogue was only to allow Joseph Kabila to remain in power. And this radical opposition is still asking for one thing: they want Joseph Kabila to step down by December 19, which is the end of his second mandate,” Nicolon said.