Congo Opposition Alliance Says Vote Must Be Held Dec. 30

(Bloomberg) -- A major opposition coalition in the Democratic Republic of Congo condemned a week-long postponement of presidential and parliamentary elections, saying it won’t tolerate any further delays.

The Cap pour le Changement alliance supporting the presidential bid of Felix Tshisekedi “will not accept another delay of even one day,” Jean-Marc Kabund, a senior official in the coalition, told reporters and supporters Friday in the capital, Kinshasa. 

The central African nation’s electoral commission on Thursday pushed back the elections from Dec. 23 to 30, blaming a fire at one of its warehouses which destroyed voting material destined for Kinshasa’s polling stations. Elections were initially due in 2016 but not organized on time, allowing outgoing President Joseph Kabila to remain in office beyond the end of his second term, the maximum permitted by Congo’s constitution.

The alliance is “convinced that Joseph Kabila has never had the least will to allow the organization of free, democratic and transparent elections,” Kabund said. The copper- and cobalt-rich can nation hasn’t had a democratic transfer of power since it gained independence in 1960.

If the elections aren’t held on Dec. 30, Kabund told hundreds of supporters gathered at the headquarters of Tshisekedi’s party, the people should exercise their constitutional right to resist anyone whose seizes power by force or violates the law of the land. He urged Congolese to mobilize to make sure the vote goes ahead.

The other main opposition group, which backs Martin Fayulu for the presidency, said on Twitter it would “offer no excuses to Kabila to cancel the electoral process as he wishes.” Security forces have killed at least seven opposition supporters during rallies across the country, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.