DR Congo crisis deal close but not before new year

The unstable, mineral-rich nation has been thrust into political turmoil by Kabila's refusal to step down after his second and final five-year term, which officially ended on December 20. 

DR Congo crisis deal close but not before new year

World Bulletin / News Desk

A deal aimed at ending DR Congo's political crisis caused by President Joseph Kabila's clinging to power is close but will not be signed before Christmas, mediators said Friday.

"It is an illusion to think of a signature today", but "we could reach a consensus during a plenary session this afternoon", said a source in the Congo National Episcopal Conference (CENCO), ahead of talks between government and opposition scheduled for 2:00 pm (1300 GMT).  

At least 40 people have been killed during anti-Kabila protests around the Democratic Republic of Congo since Monday, the UN human rights office said in Geneva on Friday.

"Some 107 people have been injured or ill-treated and there have been at least 460 arrests," it added.

The influential Roman Catholic Church is brokering talks between political rivals in a bid to exit the crisis. Negotiators were on Thursday night in an optimistic mood, leaving legal experts to finalise the text of the deal based on a working document.

"It's certain -- we will finish tomorrow," CENCO vice-president Fridolin Ambongo had said, while an opposition source told AFP: "We've got everything we could have wanted."

Lumanu Mulenda, a negotiator on the government side, had said: "The president has made enough concessions, the deal will be signed tomorrow."

But on Friday morning a source in CENCO, which is presiding over the negotiations, said tersely: "There have been complications."

A mediator subsequently told AFP that "the signature could now be between Christmas and the New Year".

The working document for the deal, envisages a "political transition" with delayed presidential elections to be held at the end of 2017.

The vote was supposed to be organised this year, but as tensions rose the government maintained that it was impossible to stage an election before April 2018.

The deal also guarantees that Kabila will not seek a third mandate -- as is banned under the constitution -- and lays the groundwork for a "national transition council" charged with carrying out the agreement. 

In return, the opposition headed by 84-year-old Etienne Tshisekedi, accepts that Kabila would stay in power until he hands over to an elected successor, having previously demanded an immediate departure from public life.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Aralık 2016, 16:48