Kofi Annan warns future of DR Congo in ‘grave danger’

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Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, and nine former African presidents have warned that the “future of the Democratic Republic of Congo is in grave danger” because of President Joseph Kabila’s apparent determination to cling to power. 

In rare public criticism of an African leader, Mr Annan said in a statement they felt “obliged to sound the alarm before it’s too late” to address what has become “an acute political crisis” in the sprawling, resource-rich country. 

The signatories included Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo, former presidents of South Africa and Nigeria respectively. 

Mr Kabila should have stepped down last December at the end of his constitutional mandate. But he refused because no election had been held to choose a successor and the courts ruled he could remain in office. 

Dozens died in anti-Kabila protests across the country last year but anarchy was averted after a deal was struck on December 31 between the president and the opposition. They agreed Mr Kabila could remain as president and the opposition would select the prime minister of a transitional government to organise elections by the end of this year. 

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But Mr Kabila simply chose an opposition leader, Bruno Tshibala, as prime minister, infuriating the majority of the opposition. Diplomats and analysts say it is in effect impossible for elections to be held this year because the voter registration is unlikely to be completed in time. 

“Both the spirit and the letter of the agreement are not being respected thereby endangering a non-violent political transition, which we believe is vital for the future stability and prosperity of the DRC,” the former leaders wrote. 

Voter registration has been delayed partly by a 10-month-long rebellion in the Kasai region. Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 1.3m have fled their homes. 

Opinion

Few leaders have been in power so long yet made so little impression

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