The United Nations has urged the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila to leave power for the sake of peace and stability in the country. In a statement issued on Sunday, the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres asked Mr. Kabila, whose tenure ended in December 2017 to keep his promise of stepping down in 2017.
Kabila, who took office in 2001 after the death of his father President Laurent-Desire Kabila, was supposed to leave office in December 2016 when his second and last term ended, but the electoral commission postponed the presidential election citing the lack of resources to conduct a free, fair and credible poll.
Although the Congolese opposition wanted Kabila to retire immediately, they agreed to work out a plan that would allow him to remain in office in an acting capacity until a new presidential poll was held.
However, the recent postponement of the election to December 2018 has sparked deadly violence in the central African nation, with more than ten people already reported dead in different parts of the country.
Many Congolese people, especially those in the opposition, are accusing Mr. Kabila of planning to amend the constitution to extend his reign.
On Sunday, violence rocked the main towns across the DRC as angry protesters engaged the police in running battles, leaving at least eight people dead and dozens arrested. Many local and international observers are now worried that Kabila’s continued stay in office might lead to a full-blown civil war.
“The secretary-general urges all Congolese political actors to remain fully committed to the 31 December 2016 political agreement, which remains the only viable path to the holding of elections, the peaceful transfer of power and the consolidation of stability in the DRC,” the office of the UN secretary-general said in a statement.
Guterres also called on the security agents in the country to handle anti-Kabila protesters with a degree of restraint and to protect human rights. This follows reports of the use of excess force by the police against unarmed protesters on Sunday.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, which is rich with precious mineral resources, has never had peaceful transfer of power since its independence in 1960.