African leaders say election delays spell “grave danger” for Congo

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Residents chant slogans against Congolese President Joseph Kabila as peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) patrol during demonstrations in the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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KINSHASA (Reuters) – Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and nine former African presidents have warned that the future of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in “grave danger” due to the failure to organise an election to replace President Joseph Kabila.

Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate last December, adding to uncertainty in the vast, mineral-rich central African nation, where regional wars from 1996-2003 killed millions of people.

An agreement between Kabila’s ruling coalition and opposition leaders calls for the presidential election to take place by the end of this year, but delays in registering voters and mobilising financing make that increasingly unlikely.

“The failure to organise elections in late 2016, in conformity with the constitution of the DRC, has created an acute political crisis,” Annan and former presidents including South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo said in a statement issued late on Thursday.

“We feel obliged to sound the alarm before it is too late,” it added.

Dozens died last year in violent anti-government protests in major cities, and an insurrection in the centre of the country has killed hundreds and displaced 1.3 million more since last August.

(Reporting By Aaron Ross; Editing by Gareth Jones)

 

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