The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has said that President Joseph Kabila will not seek a third mandate in the country’s delayed elections because of constitutional term limits that prevent him from running again.
Kabila, whose second term officially ended in 2016, is constitutionally ineligible for December’s poll and his rivals accuse him of wanting to stay in power.
So far, he has not clearly stated himself whether he will step aside despite appeals from the international community to publicly say he will not run for re-election.
But DRC Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said on Tuesday that Kabila will respect the constitution.
“The elections are going to take place without the participation of President Kabila who will abide by the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas conference in Montreal, Canada.
The country has seen widespread anger over what some see as Kabila’s refusal to relinquish power after the end of his his second full term in December 2016.
Kabila came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, the country’s third president.
He was elected in 2006 in the DRC’s first democratic election since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Kabila secured a second term in 2011, though that election was plagued by allegations of widespread voter fraud.
Currently, a DRC president can only serve two, consecutive, five-year terms.
According to the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission, the elections – which have been postponed twice – will take place on December 23, 2018.
Last week, exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi addressed thousands of supporters in the capital, Kinshasa, via a video link and called for a united front against Kabila.