Incumbent president will not stand for re-election - VIDEO | Eurasia Diary -

20 March, Wednesday

Incumbent president will not stand for re-election - VIDEO

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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila will not stand for re-election in December, a government spokesman has announced. 
Kabila's ruling coalition nominated former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as its presidential candidate, Lambert Mende, the government spokesman, said on Wednesday.
The move put an end to years of speculation on whether Kabila would defy terms limits.  
The government waited until the last moment to announce Kabila's decision not to run. The electoral commission's deadline for candidates to register was Wednesday afternoon. 
Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi, reporting from the capital Kinshasa, said Ramazani's nomination came as a surprise.
"Over the days, several names [of Kabila's replacements] have been floating around, but his name never really featured," she said.
"The nomination came after a long consultation between the president and his coalition."
The uncertainty about Kabila's intentions raised concern over the past few days, she said.
"But now that has been cleared and analysts are telling us that these tensions that have been in the country could de-escalate," she said.
The Catholic Church immediately called the decision by Kabila "a big step," while the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, welcomed the news but said Congo's electoral commission must "take all steps necessary" to guarantee a free and fair vote.
"Congo's regional and international partners must continue to exert strong pressure for the country to have a truly democratic transition and to prevent further repression," said Ida Sawyer, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
"We are still very far from a credible electoral process, and many things can happen by December, including additional delays."
Kabila, whose second term officially ended in 2016, is constitutionally ineligible to run in December's poll, although his rivals accused him of wanting to stay in power.
Shadary, a close ally of Kabila, used to serve as deputy prime minister. He was sanctioned by the European Union for alleged human rights violations in 2017. 
Shadary counts as one of Kabila's most loyal followers but, as a politician, is not very popular among DR Congo's roughly 80 million people. 
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.


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