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Congo steps closer to deal for Kabila to leave office

PUBLISHED: Fri, 23 Dec 2016 08:45:08 GMT

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KINSHASA – Congolese politicians have agreed in principle to a deal under which President Joseph Kabila leaves office by the end of 2017, opposition leaders said on Friday, an unexpected breakthrough after dozens were killed in anti-government protests this week.

In return, the constitution cannot be changed to let Kabila stand for a third term, a prime minister will be named from the main opposition bloc and its leader Etienne Tshisekedi will oversee the implementation of the deal, Martin Fayulu and Jose Endundo told Reuters.

“Kabila stays for one year,” Fayulu said. “He will not try to stand for a new term.”

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A government spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the deal, which requires final approval by all the delegates at negotiations mediated by Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Catholic Church.

Kabila’s mandate expired on Tuesday but he has remained inofficeas a presidential election scheduled for last month was postponed until at least April 2018 because of what the government said were delays registering voters.

He has declined to commit publicly to not changing the constitution, leading to accusations that he is trying to cling to power.

Human Rights Watch said security forces killed at least 34 people during protests on Tuesday against Kabila’s failure to step down at the end of his second and final elected term. DRC has never had a peaceful transition of power.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)


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