Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections will be held on December 23, 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "At 6pm, yesterday, Sunday, November 5, 2017, the election calendar was finally published in the don Apollinaire Malumalu room, at the headquarters of the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) in Kinshasa", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mbumba Prosper, Congolese missionary of the Immaculate Heart of the Congregation of Mary. "Presidential, national and provincial elections will take place on Sunday, December 23, 2018, according to what Corneille Nangaa, President of CENI, announced in front of a crowd of politicians, diplomats, deputies, senators and journalists".
The opposition complained that, according to the new electoral calendar, outgoing President Joseph Kabila, whose term expired on 20 December 2016, will be able to remain in office until early January 2019. The new president will hold office on January 12.
"The new electoral calendar was presented due to the pressure from the United States, the European Union and the African Union", Prosper writes. In particular, the United States, through UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, threatened that if elections had not taken place in 2018, they would cut financial support to the DRC (see Fides 31/10/2017).
"The fact remains that the San Silvestro Agreement, which guarantees the legitimacy of the government in office, provided for the elections to be held by December 2017", recalls Fr. Prosper,
The San Silvestro agreement was concluded through the mediation of the local Episcopal Conference. It provided for Kabila to remain in power and the formation of a national unity government with the participation of all political forces in order to hold elections by 2017. The government was formed but did not include the representatives of the Grouping of Opposition Armed Forces. CENI also announced on October 10 that elections could only take place in the spring of 2019 (see Fides 28/10/2017).
Meanwhile, as Peace Network for Congo denounces to Fides, there are strong violations of the right to expression and demonstration in the DRC. "For several months - says a note - mayors and governors have not allowed, especially the opposition, the organization of any kind of political demonstration, including committees and meetings. Security forces immediately intervene to disperse any group with more than 5 to 10 people, often resorting to disproportionate use of force, using tear gas or even firing directly on demonstrators". "On the other hand, some demonstrators do not hesitate to place stones or burn tires in the streets, in order to prevent the circulation of vehicles" continues the note which stresses that by doing so protesters offer the pretext for the repressive intervention of police forces. "What was thought to be a tool of protest against power risks becoming a boomerang against the demonstrators themselves", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/11/2017)