Kabila blames external forces for DRC problems

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Kabila blames external forces for DRC problems

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 19, 2018

    > Jeff Kapembwa

    Lusaka – Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, who is struggling to contain political strife in his country, has conceded to the spate of internal problems in the country leading to the displacement of his people but has blamed external forces and the international media for blowing the situation out of proportion.

    The crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not as it is being portrayed,” Kabila said during talks with Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

    Kabila was on a state visit to Zambia last week. 

    He assured the international community of his government’s commitment to ensuring that all pockets of instability ravaging some parts of that country are dealt with urgently. 

    Kabila said his administration was on course to hold elections as planned in December this year, but could not say whether he will be running for a third term or not.

    On his part, President Edgar Lungu, the incoming chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, cautioned the international community not to meddle in the DRC’s internal problems, adding that the people and its leader were capable. 

    Lungu said he was hopeful the turmoil in DRC that saw close to 20 000 Congolese flee to Zambia since the beginning of last year, would be resolved to allow a free and fair election.

    According to the website, Zambia Reports, Lungu shared notes with Kabila during his two-day visit to Zambia.

    “I welcomed the President of Democratic Republic of Congo, His Excellency Mr Joseph Kabila who was in the country for a two-day visit. “During our bilateral talks at State House, we discussed matters of security, politics and trade between the two countries. 

    President Kabila briefed me on how he is dealing with instability in his country so that peace prevails and trade is enhanced between his country and Zambia,” Lungu said.

    “I assured President Kabila that he can count on Zambia for help to mitigate the political challenges which DRC is facing. 

     I am optimistic that the Democratic Republic of Congo will soon settle its political issues following the agreement President Kabila signed on December 31, 2016, to allow a free election in his county.”

    The DRC is expected to hold long-expected polls on 23 December but the head of the country’s elections commission has insisted that the poll will not take place without electronic voting machines.

    "Without voting machines, there will be no elections on December 23, 2018," election commission head Corneille Nangaa was quoted as saying by News24.

    Nangaa’s statement came a day after the United States, France, Britain and four other UN Security Council members called on Kabila to publicly declare that he will not run for election this year. 

    Washington separately asked Kinshasa to scrap plans to use electronic voting for the first time in elections this year, saying it risked undermining the credibility of the historic polls.

    "These elections must be held by paper ballot so there is no question by the Congolese people about the result," said US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

    "The US has no appetite to support an electronic voting system," she said, adding that e-ballots had never been tested in the country. Kabila, 46, who has ruled for 17 years, has not yet clearly stated whether he will step aside.

    Meanwhile, Kabila seems to be riddled with bad luck after his motorcade was involved in another fatal accident in Zambia, less than a week after a similar accident were several people died.

    During his state visit to Zambia on Sunday, February 18, Kabila’s motorcade left a 35-year old Lusaka motorist dead and a policeman who was part of the presidential motorcade seriously injured after the former refused to give way.

    The incident has forced the Zambian government to issue a public apology to Kabila over the incident, describing the situation as “regrettable”.

    Though government spokesperson Dora Siliya has apportioned the blame on the unidentified deceased for failing to obey police instructions to give way to the motorcade, DRC officials suspect an attempt to assassinate Kabila.

    The spokeswoman contended that the deceased driver had disobeyed the orders and overtook between 10 and 15 other vehicles, leaving one of the escort vehicles remaining with no option but to provide cover to the DRC leader's vehicle, resulting in the crash.

    "The action by the driver endangered the life of the visiting head of state, his entourage and members of the public," Siliya said.

    The BBC reported on February 14 that Kabila’s entourage was involved in another fatal road crash involving a truck carrying cement, killing three soldiers and two civilians.

    The accident occurred 220km south of the capital Kinshasa as Kabila was returning from the port city of Matadi were he had inaugurated an oil rig and administrative building.

    Heavy rain and speeding were cited as the main cause of the accident. 

    Witnesses said Kabila had stayed at the scene of the accident until the emergency services arrived “and personally supervised the ambulance evacuation of the dead and injured”.

    However, these incidents heightened public emotions against Kabila, whose country is on fire, for clinging to power and ineptitude by SADC to force the youthful leader to step down.

    Kabila’s term as DRC president expired in November 2016 but he has insisted on staying in office without holding elections which he is constitutionally barred from contesting as he has served his two terms.

    He came to power in 2001, when his Laurent Kabila was assassinated by a bodyguard.

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