KINSHASA, Congo — Congo’s main opposition parties on Tuesday renewed calls for the international community and the United Nations to take a more active role with the African Union in bringing about a credible and inclusive dialogue on elections that have raised tensions in the central African country.
The leader of the largest opposition party, Etienne Tshisekedi, called on supporters to demonstrate on Oct. 19 if progress isn’t made on holding elections that are scheduled for November, but will likely be delayed.
Dozens died two weeks ago in the capital Kinshasa after security forces clashed with thousands of anti-government demonstrators opposed to delaying the election.
The opposition parties also called for restructuring the electoral commission and the Constitutional Court, saying they are partisan to President Joseph Kabila, who came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001.
The opposition blames Kabila for delaying elections in an effort to hold onto power beyond his mandate, which ends in December. A high court has said he can remain in office until a new leader is elected.
The opposition demands come days after the electoral commission announced it wants to delay elections for two years to update voter registration.
The opposition parties, which have refused to participate in the current dialogue, say inclusive talks need to cover the electoral process, and the arrangements needed “to organize elections in accordance with the Constitution and democratic standards,” and to ensure successful completion of the electoral process.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende denied that there have been constitutional violations, and criticized the opposition parties’ demands.
Kabila said that the dialogue already in progress will lead to credible and peaceful elections. He spoke during a press conference on a visit to Tanzania.
“The goal of the dialogue is to ensure that the next elections, in December this year or after, are peaceful before, during and after the electoral campaign, and after the proclamation of results,” the president said.
Since Congo won independence from Belgium in 1960, there hasn’t been a peaceful, democratic transition of power.