Kinshasa on Friday accused the United Nations and the Congolese opposition of demonstrating “irresponsibility” by pushing for presidential elections to be held by the year’s end.
During a press conference in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda referred to the violence which followed the 2006 elections to argue that the quality of the ballot was far more important than the date on which it was held.
His remarks came a week after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2277 which renewed the mandate of its MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the country, but which also expressed “deep concern” over delays in the preparation for the November vote.
The DRC is supposed to hold elections in November, but the chances of them actually taking place are receding, with President Joseph Kabila suspected of planning to extend his rule after his mandate runs out at the end of the year.
The resolution, which was unanimously adopted on March 30, drew a sharp response from Kinshasa.
“You could talk about constitutionally-mandated deadlines six months, a year, even 10 years before an election, no problem, but to keep on talking about this with only six or seven months left when you know objectively it will be difficult to do it on time, I think that borders on irresponsibility,” said Tshibanda.
“There is no better way to sow the seeds of violence than doing this.”
Last month, UN chief Ban Ki-moon also said he was “very concerned by the impasse in the organisation” of the elections, warning it could spark fresh political violence.
The country has been mired in a deep political crisis since Kabila’s reelection at the end of 2011 following elections marred by irregularities and massive fraud.
Kabila first assumed power after his father, president Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in 2001. He took up his first elected term in 2006, under a new UN-supervised constitution which provided for two five-year mandates in the vast nation of some 81 million people.
He was reelected in fraud-tainted polls in 2011.
Last November, Kabila called for a “national dialogue” to help ensure peaceful elections, but the opposition has accused him of seeking to delay the polls in order to find a way to get around the constitution and stay in power.
The opposition is pushing for the presidential vote to be held on time, even though no date has been officially set.
According to the Constitution, the ballot should be held “90 days before the expiry of the mandate of the incumbent president”.
“We are determined to hold elections,” Tshibanda said, but “the most important thing” is “that they be held in peaceful conditions and not conditions which breach the peace”.