Congo Opposition Rejects Vote Talks, Plans General Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition alliance rejected talks with President Joseph Kabila’s government on the organization of elections, and called for a general strike for Tuesday.

“The necessary requirements for holding a dialogue have not been met,” said Etienne Tshisekedi, a spokesman for the group of at least a dozen other opposition leaders including presidential aspirant Moise Katumbi. “We call on all of our people to mobilize as a single man to thwart this umpteenth abuse of power, by observing a general strike,” Tshisekedi, president of the UDPS, said in an e-mailed statement.

The move deals a blow to plans by African Union facilitator Edem Kodjo to host opening talks with all the parties on Tuesday to help reach an agreement on elections. The presidential vote was scheduled to be held in November, but has been delayed by slowdowns in the voter-registration process. The opposition says Kabila is deliberating trying to extend his 15-year rule.

The collapse in the African Union’s latest effort to bring all political parties to the negotiating table raises the risk of further violence in Africa’s largest copper producer. In addition to Tuesday’s strike, the opposition threatened “large-scale actions across the country” in the run-up to Sept. 19, when, according to the constitution, the president would normally call for elections, 90 days before the end of his term.