Opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo early on Friday said they had forged an alliance and demanded that President Joseph Kabila quit when his term expires in December.
After a two day closed doors meeting in Belgium, the groups issued a statement saying they had set up a joint organisation called “Rassemblement,” or “Rally” in English. Its goal “is to realise the struggle of the Congolese people for change and a state of law,” they said. They also issued a warning to Kabila, in power since 2001 and who is widely believed to want a third term, in contravention of the constitution which allows only two.
If Kabila stays in power beyond December 19, when his second term elapses, this would be deemed “a constitutional coup d’etat,” they said. A socalled committee of wise men headed by veteran opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi will be set up to coordinate decisions. Tshisekedi, 83, an opposition leader since the rule of strongman Mobutu Sese Seko, came second to Kabila in a fraudtainted 2011 election.
Earlier, Tshisekedi told delegates they were gathered “as patriots to exchange views on the grave crisis affecting our country.” “More than ever, we must be united to get rid of you know who,” he said.
At the same time, the opposition must be mindful of the possible dangers and get the president “to leave quietly… and not expose the people to bullets,” he said. Tshisekedi said the opposition could consider dialogue with Kabila but only on certain conditions – respect for the constitution, release of political prisoners and oversight by the international community to make sure any agreement was enforced.
No date has yet been set for the country’s new election, and late last year Kabila said he hoped to organise a “national dialogue” aimed at reaching a wide consensus ahead of any poll. Tensions have been soaring in the DRC in recent months over fears that Kabila will postpone elections to extend his time in office.
Moise Katumbi, a leading DR Congo opposition figure who has announced his candidacy for the presidency, had been expected to attend the Brussels meeting but sent his closest advisers instead, organisers said. Katumbi quit the DRC in May ostensibly for medical treatment and is now staying in Britain
He left his country a day after the government announced he would be tried for endangering state security