Anti-Kabila third term in DRC gains momentum

NO WAY, NO KABILA: Vital Kamerhe will do all he can to ensure Kabila retires next year

NO WAY, NO KABILA: Vital Kamerhe will do all he can to ensure Kabila retires next year

Vital Kamerhe, the former member of the ruling party in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and a close ally President Joseph Kabila has announced he will oppose and block the president’s move to orchestrate a constitutional amendment paving way for his third term bid.

Kamerhe, who fell out with Kabila in 2010 and later formed his own party- Union pour la Nation Congolaise (UNC), is throwing his support behind potential presidential candidate and Kabila’s rival Moïse Katumbi, the popular governor of DRC’s Katanga Province.

“This is a political battlefield in which the Congolese people have to be given a chance to choose leaders freely. The constitution must be respected and if it is to be amended, it’s the people to decide,” Kamerhe said in DRC South-Eastern town of Lubumbashi.

Political observers say Karmerhe’s public opposition of the possible constitutional change and Kabila’s third term bid, coupled with political heavyweight Katumbi’s recent resignation from the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), is a clear indication the campaign against Kabila’s potential third term bid is gaining some momentum.

Analysts also say Karmerhe’s move will motivate other politicians to speak out against Kabila’s third term ambitions and to break ranks with him.

In September, seven senior political figures including Kabila’s close allies were expelled from the Kabila’s ruling G7 coalition for petitioning the president to respect the constitution that bars him from running for the third term.

“The authors of the memorandum are excluding themselves from the presidential majority,” government spokesman Lambert Mende said upon the G7 leaders expulsion.

Also in September, the opposition UDPS party broke off negotiations with the government over conditions for a national dialogue regarding the electoral process.

Though Kabila has not publically said he will run for the third, he has not ruled it out either, and there has been popular protests throughout the vast Central African nation against Kabila’s possible third term run.

In January this year, President Kabila’s attempts to engineer a constitutional amendment allowing him to run for the third term aborted after a week of intense protests that claimed the lives of more than 40 people although Kinshasa government says just 15 people died.

President Kabila has been in office since his father Laurent Kabila’s assassination in 2001, he has won two disputed general elections.

Mr. Kabila is not the only leader in the region seeking to controversially extend his stay in power, in Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza just won a highly contested third term but his re-election is threatening to plunge the country into a civil war. Next door in Rwanda and Uganda, Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni are set to run for the third and fifth term respectively .

Congolese are due to head to the polls November 2016 to chose the country’s next leader, and the United States has urged Kabila to respect the constitution and step aside.