Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Outgoing President Joseph Kabila has received some important international awards as the expiration of his mandate, as envisaged by the San Silvestro Agreement, signed on December 31, 2016, is due to expire. According to the agreements, Kabila was to step down by the end of 2017, the year in which the presidential elections were to be held which initially were scheduled in December 2016.
The new presidential elections will take place on December 23, 2018 as declared on November 5 by the Independent National Election Commission (CENI, see Fides 6/11/2017). The announcement of CENI in Kinshasa took place shortly after the visit of US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who had imposed an ultimatum on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo: elections by 2018, otherwise financial support to the DRC would be cut.
"By proposing the expiration of 2018, Nikki Haley offered the Congolese authorities what they were expecting: a second year of power to President Kabila, whose second and last presidential mandate ended on 19 December 2016", says a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Peace Network for Congo. "If the 31 December 2016 agreement had already officially confirmed a first postponement of the elections in December 2017, Nikki Haley approved their second postponement to 2018. The US ambassador seems to have satisfied a part, the presidential majority, ignoring the second part, the opposition, who has asked Joseph Kabila to resign".
The San Silvestro's agreement was mediated by Congolese Bishops. According to a statement by CENCO (National Bishops' Conference of the Congo) sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops asked Nikki Haley to "help the Congolese people complete the electoral process within a reasonable deadline and accepted by all parties involved; to obtain the effective observance of the Constitution and the full implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016 from the politicians; to recommend the Electoral Commission the rapid publication of a realistic and accurate electoral calendar, which will allow for credible, transparent and peaceful elections; to ask the Head of State an explicit commitment not to present himself for the next elections; to obtain from the high authorities of the State, civil and military, the cessation of the repression of peaceful demonstrations and of serious violations of human rights, as well as respect of democratic principles; to encourage the government to continue to pursue the implementation of the political reforms envisaged in the December 31, 2016 agreement, as they are an essential prerequisite for launching a peaceful electoral process; to make every effort to ensure that the panel of experts nominated at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations has an operational power within the Electoral Commission".
The extension, of more than two years, of Kabila's presidential mandate has expired, creating strong tensions in the Country. Opposition and civil society have threatened to organize demonstrations to force the President to resign. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 8/11/2017)