The UN Security Council will travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo next week to gauge tensions over the holding of presidential elections. The 15 council envoys will visit Kinshasa, Goma and Beni from November 10 to 14 for talks with President Laurent Kabila, opposition leaders and civil society. “We are in a very tense pre-election context,” Senegalese Ambassador Fode Seck, who holds the presidency of the council this month, told reporters Tuesday.
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“The council considers that it would be useful to go to DR Congo to speak to all the players as part of its prevention role,” he told reporters.
Anti-Kabila demonstrations in Kinshasa in September turned violent, killing some 49 people.
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Last month, a political deal was reached between Kabila’s party and some fringe opposition groups to delay the presidential election due to have been held this year, until April 2018.
The opposition rejected the deal, with the main dissident coalition — “Rassemblement” (Gathering) — branding it a ploy by Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his term.
One of Africa’s biggest, resource-richest countries, the DR Congo has been ruled by Kabila since 2001, when his father Laurent was assassinated.
He was elected in 2006 to his first five-year term under a constitution that sets a two-term limit for presidents.
France has said the political deal does not fully address the crisis and has called on Kabila to announce that he will not run for office.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said Kabila should set a date for the election.
US Ambassador Samantha Power has said elections should be held in 2017.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month said he hoped the deal would help improve human rights and lead to a credible vote.
Ban urged opposition groups to resolve differences peacefully.