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U.S. Urges Kabila to Hold Elections as Unrest Sweeps DRC

United States has piled pressure on DRC President Joseph Kabila to hold elections as a means of deescalating political tension in the country.

Kabila’s constitutional mandate as president expired in November 2016.

A move to lift the presidential term limit by amending the constitution hit a snag in the legislature, crippling Kabila’s plans to seek another term in office.

While Kabila can’t stand again, he can stay in power until the next elections are organized, according to the Supreme Court.

But Kabila maintains the country lacks the necessary logistics to hold a national election.

Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations at the African Union, said Kabila has to do the “right thing.”

She said U.S. was “very concerned that the situation is deteriorating. There is a constitution. The constitution says there should be free and fair elections, then we are really hoping that President Kabila does the right thing.”

Despite protests across the country in recent months, Kabila has refused to organize elections.

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Some 3.9 million people across several regions of DRC have been displaced from their homes, and amid growing violence and unrest.

According to a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over the last three months alone, more than 428,000 people have been displaced.

“With widespread militia activities, and unrest and violence fuelled by ethnic and political conflict affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told journalists at a regular briefing in Geneva recently.

In particular, the regions of Tanganyika, North and South Kivu, and Kasai are the worst affected due to intercommunal clashes, fighting between armed groups and increasing number of armed militia.

Haley said U.S. wants to see Kabila taking action to save the situation from getting out of hand.

“That is really what we want to see and so we are hoping he (Kabila) will see the situation for what it is and a major legacy for him would be to allow for a free and fair election and for him to move sooner rather than later and not delay the process,” she emphasised.

“We are also concerned about the people on the ground. When you look at the environment, the situation and the humanitarian needs in that area, access and making sure they get that is really going to be very important.”

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